Some Activity in August.

Here is a bit about my activity in August.

I finished watching season 1 of “The Man in the High Castle”

This did not catch on strongly with me, but I may still do some more, but it is not high priority.

Rating 6/10.

On the recommendation from a participant of the Fantasticon this year, and another friend I watched season 1 (until now) of “Station Eleven”

While it was interesting enough to finish the season, it did not catch me as much as I have the impression from the recommendations. There was a lot of time jumping (not time travel), and it took some time to get used to.

Rating 7/10

Having liked “Game of Thrones” very well, I started watching the spin-off “House of Dragons”. The first two episodes aired in August, and I like it enough to continue watching. A rating will have to wait until the season is done.

 

Then there is “The Sandman” (season 1) on Netflix. This is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic/graphic novel of the same name.

I have not read the source material, but I have read some Neil Gaiman stuff (and liked it), and seen some TV with him involved in the writing, and I always liked it.

First of all, from the very beginning this feels very much like Neil’s writing. I love the acting and cinematography of this. Episode 6 is a solid highlight of the season.

I am definitely hoping for a continuation, but hopes are moderate, given the tendency of Netflix to cancel shows after a season or two.

Having said that, this first season stands very well on its own.

Rating 10/10

I finished re-listening to the audio book “Moreta, Dragon Lady of Pern” by Anne McCaffrey. I enjoyed it very well as late evening listening, as well as listening to it while driving.

Rating 8/10.

The progress in reading The Expanse novels is slow, as there are some other summer activities going on.

Non scifi activities:

Due to the heat wave I have not done a massive lot, but now it seems to cool down, and I should continue building my system for partial coverage of my electricity needs with solar power. More about this in another post.

A Little July Activity.

This is summer time, so not too much indoor scifi activity.

I got to watch a single film in the Harry Potter franchise:

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. This film is not bad, but it does not quite measure up to the “original” films from the books..

I started re-reading (well listening to the audio book version) another book in the Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonriders of Pern” series:

The Skies of Pern. I did not quite get to finish it, as this is done near bed time, and sometimes the evening activities stretched a bit longer than planned. But that is fine, it is a good finalization of the main story. There are several more books in the series, and I want to do at least a few of them after finishing this one.

Activities, May and June, 2022.

I did get to do a little bit more in May and June this year. I am still building some more solar power setup, and some ham radio in the summer season, but here is the list:

Finished season 3 of Batwoman. A. OK series.

I finished the rewatch of Fringe. A very enjoyable thing to see again.

During May and June, mostly when traveling, I have been re-listening to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, as I have organised the series. The listening has continued a bit in the late evenings. At the moment the main series, as I perceive it:

  1. Dragonflight
  2. Dragonquest
  3. The White Dragon
  4. The Renegades of Pern

Also got started with some reading again:

I started The Expanse series, after finishing the TV series. I am now reading the first book: Leviathan Wakes.

I will be going through that slowly, but the intention is still to get to read them all. I have them available on my Kindle e-reader.

Of course, in May and June there were two conventions that I have already mentioned in previous posts, the Fedcon 30 in Bonn and the Fantasticon 2022 in Copenhagen.

A strictly non scifi, but a bit related project:

I will start building a small solar power system for the bedroom. This should provide the following:

  1. Night lighting, a bit of reading lighting
  2. Charging facility for my phone, e-readers, tablet etc.
  3. Power supply for a small audio player system, for audio books and the like

This will likely be made with 100W solar panels, a battery with a capacity of 20 – 25 Ampere-hours and a charge controller. Even in the deep of winter I would expect this system to provide sufficient power. If this is not the case the system can be expanded with higher solar panel power and bigger batteries.

I have just made the calculations for this system in my head, so I may have underestimated the power consumption. We shall see.

Activity July 2021.

There has been limited activity on the scifi realm this month, well it is summer time, and outdoor activities have taken precedence, but this bit was done:

July:
Read:
J.M. Straczynski: Together We Will Go.

Not a genre book, but very well written and very unusual. tears, laughter, a mystery and very complex characters make this an excellent read. 9/10.

Film:
Theory of Everything (about the life of Stephen Hawking). 8/10

TV:
Superman & Lois:
S01 continued.

Modest, but a bit more will happen in the fall/autumn.

May/June 2021 Activity.

Here is a bit of the activities for the past few months:

Book:

Finished reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files #17: Battle Ground. – 8/10

Film:

Joker (Netflix) – good origin story. 8/10

TV/streaming:

Finished Upload, season 1. Good fun – 7/10

Finished The 100, season 6 – 7/10

Up-to date (end of June) with:

Legends of Tomorrow(Netflix), S6, Batwoman(HBO), S02, Superman & Lois (HBO) S01

Other activities, especially outdoor (summer) activities have taken precedence, and will do for a while yet.

March Activity.

March has been a scifi-low month. Other activities have had higher priority.

One book read: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Peace Talks.

Since the vaccination has reached maximum protection I may re-start some video meetings soon. That depends on the vaccination status of the few people I intend to meet.

Memories: Early Science Fiction I Was Exposed To. Tintin.

Some of the first science fiction I read was actually a set of comic books: The series of “Adventures of Tintin”.

OK, some of it is just general earthly adventures of a young journalist man in different parts of the world. Hergé (real name George Remi) started creating the stories of Tintin in 1929 as a strip in the conservative Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle.

Later he had a series of albums, or graphic novels, as we now call them, beginning in black-and-white with the story “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”. This exists, as far as I know in an album, but I have not found that one.

Some stories, like The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun (1943 – 1949) have a more fantasy/mythical theme, but the solution to their last problem is quite scientific.

The Destination Moon/Explorers on the Moon (1950 – 1956) is actually science fiction, well, it was written before the space age started in October 1957, and long before the first moon landing in 1969.

Let’s face it. The stories are not complex, but fun adventures with some humour interspersed. Especially, some of the names of the characters are quite funny.

A fun little story I experienced. In 1991 a group of Hergé fans made a rather large exhibition of Hergé’s work, in the town of Welkenraedt in the Western part of Belgium, including building some models from some Tintin stories. The first one I recall very well was a model of the top of the rocket used to go to the moon, with quarters etc.

The second one was quite ingenious. You could walk in the cave in where Tintin found his friend Chang (Tintin in Tibet), but when you followed it to the end of the tunnel you were suddenly standing in the same place as Tintin in the drawings of another story, and just like Tintin in the story, I just stood there saying “The Blue Lotus!” Going there was, of course, a bit like going to a convention, meeting lots of other fans of Hergé.

One more thing: When I moved to The Netherlands to live for some years, I wanted to learn the language as fast as possible. Given that most Dutch people speak English quite well, and are proud of it, that way proved more tricky. Fortunately, I did find a Dutch colleague with one of the same interests, and we agreed that after a year we would speak Dutch only. I did. The other thing I did was finding some comic books (yes also Tintin) to read in Dutch. Yes, I will use every trick in the book, or sometimes outside the book if I want to learn a new language.

This is one of my first adventures in science fiction, I think there will be more.

TV: His Dark Materials, Season 1.

I have just watched the season 1 finale of the TV adaptation of Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

This is excellent fantasy on TV. Here is my quick review:

Lyra sets out on a quest to find other missing children. A story of fanaticism, multiple worlds, armoured bears and, of course, betrayal.

I liked this quite a bit, and I want to revisit it, especially when new season(s) come, and my quick rating is:

9/10

Lord Of The Rings: Books Vs Films (Theatrical Releases).

While traveling earlier this year, I have been listening to the Lord of the Rings book trilogy on audio. Excellent reading by Rob Ingliss.
Further, because they were available on Netflix, recently I re-watched the three movies of the theatrical releases.
Previously I have watched the extended editions, too, but they are not in my recent memory.

Here is my impressions of the releases, for the moment:

I have loved the books since I first read them, first in Danish, then in English. This happened in the 1980s, and for a while I read all three books every year or two.
This means that when I first saw the films at their release around 2000, I could easily compare the films and the books, in relation to what was included in the films, and what was changed.
While I can understand the need to remove some parts of the books in order to fit the rather massive story into about 3×3 hours, it does result in some flaws in the films. Here are a few examples:

From the first film/book: Fellowship of the Ring:
– when I first saw the movie, I was wondering if I had missed a part of it. The hobbits were fleeing the Black Rider, crossing the Brandywine river in the ferry boat, and suddenly they were at the gate in Bree. No unmasking of the “conspiracy”, no Old Forest, no Tom Bombadil, and no finding their weapons in the Barrow Downs.
I might have accepted missing Tom Bombadil, but the swords found at the Barrow Downs are significant at a later stage: The sword that Merry receives at that point is the one that can destroy a ring wraith. Now this just happens with no explanation at all. It is not even mentioned in Rivendell, where Elrond *could* have explained the significance of the sword.
– I can accept the merging of the characters of Glorfindel and Arwen, if only for the Arwen/Aragorn part of the story. Also, it does not really detract from the main story.
– also, though it is kind of spoilery, I can accept the beginning of the movie, providing the back story of the Ring.

From Book 2: The Two Towers:
– parts of the orc hunt and Merry and Pippin’s experience with the orcs and Treebeard have been cut, but it does work.
– The arrival of the elves at Helm’s Deep was confusing, having read the books, but I can see that it would not be so, if someone is watching the films alone.

From Book 3: Return of the King:
– Elrond coming to see Aragorn at Helm’s Deep is a change that becomes rather inconsistent with the books, and made little sense to me.
– A large part of the story is completely missing, especially there is absolutely nothing about meeting Saruman on the way home, and having to deal with him in the Shire when they arrive home. Everything is just unchanged when they return to the Shire. I consider this a significant part of the story, because it shows how the hobbits have grown since the start of their journey.
These are just examples of changes to the story, there is much more, but it will have to do for now.

Did I enjoy the films? YES! I did, they still have excellent changes form the beautiful to the horrific, just like the books. The landscapes they film in are magnificent (I would like to visit some of those places). The moods in the films are excellent, as are the vast majority of the characters.

I still find that the films have a strong emotional effect. Maybe this is because I know the books so well.
I love the cinematography and the music used, and I am aware that the films could not have been made at all before their time, because the technology to make the effects did not exist.

So yes, despite the flaws I see, I like the films quite a bit.

Here is how I would rate the films and the books:

1) Theatrical versions: 8/10
2) Extended versions: 9/10
3) Books: 10/10

I am aware that I need to re-watch the extended versions again some time, but not just now.

Watched, Read and Listened To: July – October 2019:

A little less because of travels and other planned activities. This came out a bit late, but I shall endeavour to continue this type of posts, maybe monthly, maybe covering a few months at a time.

Here is the list with quick ratings:

TV:
Finishing The 100, season 4 re-watch 7/10
Finishing season 5 of “The 100”. Good show Final 2 episodes 8/10, all over 7/10
Finishing The Americans, season 6, with a friend8/10
Jeremiah, S1 continue/DVD with a friend
Finishing Scorpion, season 2 7/10
Chernobyl mini series 10/10
Sense8 re-watch, whole series. still 10/10
Krypton Season 2 finished 8/10
Into the Badlands: finished 2nd half of season 3, average 7/10
Scorpion: Season 3: 7/10
Scorpion: Season 4: (it went down hill) 6/10
Scorpion as a whole: Average 7/10
The Flash, season 5 a solid 7/10

Film:
Spiderman: Homecoming 8/10
Gravity with a friend 8/10
I Am Legend, a solid 7/10
The Dark Crystal 7/10

Read:
Becoming Superman – JMS 10/10

Babylon 5: Technomage trilogy – Jeanne Cavelos:
“The Passing of the Technomages”
1) Casting Shadows
2) Summoning Light
3) Invoking Darkness

I like this trilogy a lot
9/10

Graphic novels:
Superman: New Krypton, vols 1 – 4:
Enjoyable, interesting take on Zod’s character
8/10

Yoko Tsuno: vols 2,3 and a few more.
#29 arrived at Fantasticon – “Engle og Falke” (Danish title, Eng.: Angels and Falcons)
7/10