Babylon 5 20th Anniversary, Not the Book

A few years ago I was able to pick up the B5 20th Anniversary book at Phoenix Comicon, in 2013. The book is since then out of print, and will not be available again.

However, a multimedia edition is now available from B5Books.

Today (PST, I think) is the last day to purchase at the reduced price of $37. Tomorrow the fast response price will be the double.

If you have discovered Babylon 5 since the book went out of print, or you missed the print book for whichever reason, here is an opportunity to get the material in electronic form.

On top of that, there is some additional video material in the multimedia edition.

If you want to get it, you can go to

b5books.com and order.

Disclaimer : I am not affiliated with B5Books, but I have been a happy customer to many of their releases.

Have fun !

Marvel’s Iron Fist, Season 2

Just finished watching the 10 episodes of Iron Fist’s season 2 on Netflix.
I quite enjoyed the growth of Danny Rand, and Davos’ taking the fist, but perverting it.
Red fists in stead of Danny’s yellow fist, when it got powered.
The fact that Danny realizes that he can not (yet) control the fist, and renounces its power, and it turns interesting when they get a transfer of Davos’ power to Coleen. Her fist glows white, reflecting her balance of mind, unlike Davos’ (red) and Danny’s (yellow) glows.
Further development is when the power also goes into her Katana.

I rate this season
8/10 glowing Katanas.

50 years of “2001 – A Space Odyssey” – an incomplete review.

Yesterday I went to a 50th anniversary show of the classic “2001 – A Space Odyssey”.
I got the ticket late, on the same day, so the seat was not ideal – 4th row from the screen and to the side, so I had to turn the head to view the centre of the screen. This did not detract from the enjoyment of seeing the film on a big screen for the first time since it had its premiere in Denmark 50 years ago.
Since then I have seen it a few times on DVD, and it is a different experience.
Director Stanley Kubrick is, of course a legendary film maker, and was nominated for several Oscars.
In true Oscar comittee fashion, the only Oscar he received was for 2001. Further, in true Oscar comittee fashion regarding science fiction movies, the Oscar he was awarded was for the special effects, and not for the film per se.
Of course, the film was not entirely created by Kubrick, it was a collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke, a legendary figure in science fiction.
Having a fond memory of my 15 year old self seeing the film when it premiered I could be a bit apprehensive, does it really hold up ?
I find that it does hold up very well. Seeing those iconic images and hearing the music of this classic was very enjoyable.
The film has been said to be very slow, and in comparison with modern films it is true. Kubrick tells the story in a slow, deliberate way, giving you time to digest the beautiful imaging and the accompanying music. I very much like Kubrick’s cinematography in the film.
Occasionally the film does show its age, for example the imaging of the moon, and Jupiter and its moons could be done much better with the images available today. However, we must remember that the film was made before the moon landings and the space probes’ visits to the outer planets, so the astronomical imaging of the film must be forgiven.
The science and technology of the film is, with one notable exception, very realistic in keeping with the concept of hard science fiction. From the floating pen in weightlessness to the silence of space. In some of the space scenes there is not even any music, just eerie silence. Sometimes we hear (the astronaut’s) breath in some of the space scenes. We wre told, and I did not know, that the breath we hear is Kubrick’s own breathing.
Then there is HAL. The massive A.I. computer with excellent speech synthesis, an claiming never to make mistakes. What happens when HAL makes an apparent mistake ? It is probably up to the viewer to decide which is tha case, a mistake by the A.I. or a deliberate misdirection. I would say that this looks like a deliberate “mistake” by HAL, when “he” says that “he” cannot let the astronauts endanger the mission. Also, I see echoes of this kind of A.I. logic in the modern TV series “Person of Interest”, where the A.I. may take steps to eliminate human intervention, because “humans are prone to error”.
The exception to the strict science and technology is, of course the monolith(s), every scene with that has spiritual/religious overtones, in the imagery as well as the music (or sound effects), and it is the important link that binds all aspects of the film together, from the dawn of mankind to the “birth” of the star child.
The sparing use of dialogue is also interesting, not many films (if any) in the modern age would dare to have about 25 minutes of no dialogue in the beginning of the film *and* about 25 minutes without dialogue in the end of the film.
One aspect of going to see this film was n ot the film in and of itself, but the audience. I think that about 80% of the audience was not even born when this film premiered, but they came because of its allure as one of the great classics.
Much more could be said about this re-premiere, but now I will leave you to your own thoughts.
I enjoyed this re-watch very much, and I will say that it passed the test of time.
I rate the film 10/10 strange monoliths.

Read, Listen, Watch

I am compiling a list of films and TV series I have watched, books I have read, and audio books or plays I have listened to.

I will likely make some comments to a fair amount of the entries in the list, some information on how or when I found the titles, whether I watched the film in the cinema or on video/DVD, whether the audio/books are purchased as downloads or on paper/tape/CD etc.

Re-watch of Star Trek TNG 1-2

Recently Netflix carries the Star Trek series where I live, so I decided to make a re-watch of Star Trek Next Generation.
Just finished the first 2 seasons, occasionally while doing some other stuff, like ripping some CDs.
Let’s face it, seasons 1 and 2 are not too strong, so I often found me leaving the episode running while changing CD (and editing the CDDB entry), but a few episodes did catch me.
Unlike some others I do like Q, episodes, sometimes for the sense of fun, sometimes for the challenges to characters.
Q Who? is my favourite until the end of season 2. What can compete with Q, Guinan … and The Borg ? For me that is a winner combination
One other season 2 episode is just excellent : “The Measure of a Man”
In season 1 I would also mention Datalore (yes, the introduction of Lore), and The Neutral Zone (The Romulans are back, and we get the indication of a new, very powerful adversary).
In season 2 I would mention Where Silence has Lease, Contagion (The Iconians make for a fun episode, once more with the Romulans), The Emissary (turning a disadvantage into an advantage – and Peak Performance.
Elementary, dear Data for the fun gets an honourable mention from me.
Yes, this is all my own experience, feel free to disagree.

 

Starting Season 3 it is clear that here is where some better episodes begin to appear. More on that later, and also a list of stuff I have watched and read since I moved back to Denmark. The list is not exactly short, and I may write some quick reviews of some of those at a later stage.

Brief Post on activities the last year.

The blog has not been active for a while. The removal, and rebuilding of my life has taken priority. Noth everything is about scifi 😉 .
However, I have had some scifi activities, such as :
– Fedcon 2015 and 2016
– Small local conventions like Dancon and Fantasticon
– The very first Copenhagen Comicon
– a bit of reading, mostly Dresden Files books
– watching some TV/HBO/Netflix series, such as Sense8 (rewatch)
– Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Game of Thrones, 12 Monkeys, and several others

More detail on some of it later.

A Brief Sense8 review (spoiler free)

Having a little bit more time available here are a few words on the original Netflix series “Sense8”.

Sense8 is created by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS) and the Wachowskis, Andy and Lana (the Ws).

It had its premiere of all 12 episodes (season 1) in the beginning of June this year. I took time off from removal activities and watched all episodes on the premiere day.

This is a hard one to watch, single episodes at a time. It invites you to binge watch, and it  has been stated by JMS that it was intentional.

I am now into the second watch, this time much more slowly, and the re-watch value of this story is very high.

The story focuses on 8 characters, called “sensates” who, due to a tragic event, are suddenly linked telepathically, and they are hunted.

The story is more focused on characters and themes, and starts moving very slowly, introducing all 8 sensates and their immediate relations. We see the story unfold from their perspective, meaning that what they know we know, and no more.

Last Sunday I participated in The Sense8 Podcast discussing Episode 6 “Demons”, which is very packed and has a very widely discussed scene.

I consider making a set of commentaries, episode by episode, spoilerific and possibly non spoilery, if time allows.

The show does have some rather explicit scenes, but also rewards patience and attention, so I will recommend it if that is the type of story you prefer.

Dresden Files – Books and TV series.

A while ago I started to read the Dresden Files series of books by Jim Butcher.

At present I have read the first 3 books of the series, and enjoyed them thoroughly. I surely intend to read further in the series, and there is no lack of material. The series has, at present 16 books out, and the total series is expected to be around 25 books. Nor these books are not the massive tomes, such as the “Song of Ice and Fire” books, so reading a book at a time, mixed with other books, will be manageable. I have the first 12 books on the Kindle, so I don’t even need to buy them before I can read them 😉

Jim Butcher is the Guest of Honour at the Eastercon in Heathrow next year, and I am considering going there if time allows.

There is a TV series that ran for a single season, 12 episodes a few years ago. I found the DVD set and watched it the past week end.
Paul Blackthorne, also known from “Arrow” plays Harry Dresden, and I like his acting in this one, but I think he is better in “Arrow”.

I found the TV series quite entertaining, after a few episodes it started to find its feet. Harry Dresden is the only person in Chicago having his occupation in the phonebook stated as “Wizard”. He helps the local police out in the strangest cases that would normally have gone unsolved.
He is a rather powerful wizard, but has dabbled in black magic which was not too popular with “The Council”. He is under essentially constant surveillance and invariably accused of the worst of intentions.

The series follows him in a series of cases, the pilot episode “Storm Front” is relatively true to the first book in the series with the same title.

The TV series is “based on” the books, but after the pilot it deviates considerably from the books, so I should be relatively spoiler safe when I resume reading the book series.

I would rate the series at an enjoyable, slightly above average 7.5/10.

I rate the first 3 books a bit higher, at a solid above average 8/10

My #FreeBabylon5 experience at Loncon3

Some of you may not be familiar with #FreeBabylon5, so here is a short description :

There have been several attempts to revive the interest in the Babylon 5 TV series, including JMS’ attempt to buy back the rights for everything. He already has the rights for a theatrical movie, but can not do much with that.

Come September 2013 he had enough of this and made a not on his Facebook page, saying that he could do no more and encouraging the fans to “be organized and be loud”, in order to get Babylon 5 back on TV screens and streaming services. Babylon 5 has been away from TV screens for over a decade in the US. He (and we, the fans) want casual viewers to be able to stumble across the series.

So – the fans started a campaign – letter writing and attention creating measures. The campaign has already been partly successful. The full 5 year series has been shown on the UK Watch channel, with a trailer referencing #FreeBabylon5, and is currently running in Denmark, Germany and Italy.

I have been participating by giving away FreeBabylon5 stuff at a few conventions, and had some fun with that.

Now on to my draft text for an article for the FreeBabylon5 website :

“This is a personal account of my (Babylon Lurker’s) attendance of Loncon3 also known as Worldcon 2014.

Since I live in the Netherlands this was the first Worldcon I have had available near me since I started to go to conventions.

I met Jan M Schroeder at Phoenix Comicon 2013 and Space City Con 2014, and she provided me with some #FreeBabylon5 treats to give away at conventions.

The first two conventions were small local conventions in Copenhagen, Denmark with 30 – 150 attendees – and I got to give away a bit of this. One Swedish writer saw my “#FreeBabylon5” badge and immediately reacted by saying that B5 is a brilliant show.

The third was Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany, a media oriented convention with about 5000 attendees. I did get to give away a fair amount of the #FreeBabylon5 stuff, since I met a fair amount of B5 fans there.

Having gone to bigger conventions I decided to go to Worldcon in London this year with a fair supply.

Loncon3B5web

I did not have a table, but just walked around, talking to people. I was slightly surprised by the sheer number of Babylon 5 fans I met there. I must have talked to about 100 people during the 5 days, and my impression is that about 80% of those were B5 fans who happily received the FreeBabylon5 stuff. I am aware that B5 is more popular in the UK than in the US, but among the US people I met the number of fans was high. Essentially everyone knew B5, and many of the non-fans had the show on their to-do list.

I have to assume that this is because Worldcon attendees have a very wide range of Science Fiction interests, books, films, TV, comics etc. I guess I should not have been surprised at all .

On Saturday a Babylon 5 fan meeting was arranged, and in spite of it coinciding with the masquerade we had 40 – 50 people there. Not everyone I met had even heard of the fan meeting. I am sure it could have been bigger if it had been more widely announced.

Jan had indicated that the temporary tattoos were quite popular at SDCC, at Worldcon I found that the #FreeBabylon5 ribbons were more sought after. I ran out of the ribbon supply, but I still have some of the tattoos left, and a few buttons/badges, too.

Loncon 3 has been a very good convention experience in general, and a good B5 fan experience in particular. I will certainly continue being a roving Ambassador/Ranger at other conventions that I will attend.”

Transcript of JMS’ Announcement of a B5 Movie

Jan M Schroeder has just finished a transcript from the JMS announcement. She has encouraged sharing, so I bring it here as well :

Updated 2014-08-10 due to a glitch.

“Whew! Okay, I’ve finally transcribed the relevant portions from my audio recording:

Quote:

JMS recaps what’s coming up and then:

So we’ve been having a really, really good year at Studio JMS. And where that comes in handy – where it’s kind of important involves this (B5 logo comes on screen). So… Fact: When I made the Babylon 5 deal with Warner Bros. it was just short of indentured servitude. Financially, I’ll never seen a dime out of Babylon 5 ever. I have no problems with that; I knew what I was signing when I go into it, but I mention it to piss them off every once in a while. One thing that I was able to withhold was the film rights. I still own the movie rights to Babylon 5. I’ve been pushing Warner’s for the last…ever since the early cretaceous period…to “Let’s do a Babylon 5 movie – a proper big budget feature film.” And they’ve always dragged their feet [because] that’s what Warner Bros. does. They knew that they had the upper hand because I couldn’t take it to any other studio because these days all the studios want all the rights. So if I brought it to say, Sony or Fox, they’d want the TV rights which Warner Bros. controls. Warner Bros. will never give those rights up so we were always handcuffed by that.

Turns out, however, there’s one studio in Los Angeles…Distributors, by the way, don’t care about the TV rights. Distributors just [care] about the movie, they don’t care about the TV part. There’s one studio in town that doesn’t care if it doesn’t have the TV rights…that wants to see this movie made and will do it with or without Warner Bros. (Studio JMS logo comes on screen).
Here’s the plan: We’re going to have, through Studio JMS, at least two, maybe three TV series on the air next year. We’re going to have at least one or two movies going ahead. And we’ll use that to parlay serious investment in the studio. I’m not talking Kickstarter, I’m talking about one hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars; we already have people who are lined up and interested in doing that.

So in 2015 I will write a Babylon 5 screenplay. I’ll be giving Warner Bros. the opportunity – if they want to step up, “Help yourself”. If they don’t, 2016: We make it. I’m not going to wait around for more of our cast members to die. So that’s the long term plan and those are the current updates on everything that’s going on right now.

Question from a fan: Asked if JMS might crowd-fund for a million of the investment so that fans can be part of it.

JMS: I would rather not. Here’s the reason why, though. I come from the ranks of fandom – I’m as rank as any of you. To me, much as I understand that Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing are a way for those outside to get involved with the process, show their appreciation for the process, I am resistant to that lure because it feels to me like taking advantage of the fans and I have a hard time with that on a moral and ethical basis. I’d rather have an investor come up and say “Here’s a check for a hundred million dollars” – which I would gladly take, by the way; if anyone in the audience happens to have one of those lying around, let me know – than to come to the fans and try to get it. Science fiction fans, and horror fans, to a degree, are the most exploited folks out there. “Line up, buy the merchandise, watch the show.” And I just see this money suck happening. So the answer is no.

Question from a fan: Are you considering a reboot to bring in new viewers or are you thinking of a continuation with the cast and crew from the original series.

JMS: It would have to be a reboot because it’s now been twenty-plus years since we started that show and some of the age ranges wouldn’t always work with some of the characters. So we’d have to move a few people around. But what I want to do is use the original cast one way or the other and move a few things around. I’d love to see Bruce as President of the Earth Alliance; that would be the perfect role for him.

I love playing around with the cast anyway. The one story that I wanted to do for the original B5 and they wouldn’t let me do it was, when Londo was injured and had this dream sequence, I wanted to have different actors play different roles. So Jerry Doyle would play Londo. Claudia Christian would play Delenn and Delenn (Mira) would play Ivanova. Peter Jurasik would play Jerry Doyle’s role. Andreas Katsulas would be the Commander of the Station and Bruce would be G’Kar. They said, “People would be way too confused.” JMS: “They won’t be confused, trust me! Listen, they have the intelligence for this.” It was the only story that they said “No, no, no, no and by the way, no.” The chance to [ ] play around with the cast and have some fun with it could be a good thing.
Any errors are mine. Feel free to share.

Jan “