A Wish Come True.

As you may already know, when I found Babylon 5 I also found its creator J. Michael Straczynski.

I did get to meet him almost 10 years ago at Phoenix Comicon, at the 20th anniversary celebration for Babylon 5 (B5), where I attended the “Promise Panel”, where he told, for the first time in public, the background story of Michael O’Hare who played the lead, Commander Sinclair, in the first season, and his struggle with mental illness.

If you don’t know the story, and want to, just go on Youtube and search “straczynski promise panel”. Please be aware that this contains spoilers for the B5 series if you have not seen it.

Having followed him for quite a while, I know a bit about his writing career.

He has worked as a journalist, writing for much else:

  • animated TV, like The Real Ghostbusters long ago
  • Live TV, like Jeremiah and, of course his epic science fiction series Babylon 5. There is a new secret Babylon 5 related project, not known in which format, but it has been made and should  be presented at the San Diego Comicon next year. Then there is the possibility of a reboot series of Babylon 5, not a remake but a re-imagining. This could be very interesting if it is given the green light. Then there is the Neflix series Sense8 that he co-wrote with the Wachowskis
  • Comic books like Superman Earth One, Spiderman, and some originals of his own
  • Film, like the Clint Eastwood directed Changeling, a historical drama
  • Novels, both genre and more general
  • He also wrote an autobiography

I have had the wish to meet Straczynski in Europe after he was involved in Sense8, so I did not have to go to the US to do it.

I, and others, have suggested to invite him to Fedcon in Bonn, but for some reason unknown to me, it did not happen.

Today I saw an announcement from the Danish book fair (Bogforum) that they are going to have Straczynski as a guest at this year’s fair in Copenhagen in November this year. I also saw the announcement by Straczynski himself on his Twitter feed.

Now my wish comes true. Straczynski visiting, not just Europe, but within 20 minutes drive from my home.

I am excited.

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.

Fedcon #30, June 2022.

I went to this year’s Fedcon. Starting with visiting a few friends in The Netherlands on the way, I arrived at the convention hotel on Thursday afternoon.

None of the group I know very well had arrived yet, so after checking in – this time it went smoothly – I took a bit of rest in the room.

Early evening Dutch friends Annette and Detlev had arrived, and during the evening a few more of the old friends arrived A newcomer to the group, Wolfgang, was also a pleasure to get to know. In a sense the convention had already started.

Friday the official part of the convention started, with panels, Q&As photo-ops and a lot of chats. My friend Melanie, known to me from two Worldcons, also arrived and we went to a few panels together, and were generally hanging out often.

Friday was good fun I had 3 nice encounters.
First of all I got a talk with a physicist who is also writing science fiction on the space travel subject, with the more plausible physics involved. Talked for about half an hour.
Then, at the opening ceremony the ESA people had a surprise for us: They told that a member of the team making presentations could not come due to travel difficulties. We received a video message with her excuse, and it was a good one: She was on the ISS – travel difficulties, indeed 😉
I can now rightfully claim to have received a message from space 😉

After the opening I walked a bit outside, and got to have a short (small talk) with one of the guest actors. A great time was had.
Also, I got to meet a younger fan coming from Florida, and working in Switzerland, dressed up as Spock. A well done costume.

Finally there was a musical show. FEDCON RATPACK, with Vaughn Armstrong, Casey Biggs, Max Grodenchik and Nana Visitor singing and playing nerdy songs played to older music. They really enjoyed doing this, and I enjoyed them quite a bit.

Saturday:
This was (of course) the busy day of the con.
Presentation on new tech visions at Star Trek.
Autograph session in the heat. Got my fav photo of Jonathan Frakes signed, and he seemed to like it.
Steve Dix (Englishman living in Germany): Nerd comedy show, quite amusing.
ESA (space agency): Ask the crew (for their different missions) yes, Q&A. They are very good and it looks like they enjoy coming to Fedcon. Also they had a stand where we could find some (free) stuff, posters, stickers, and a tote bag with pictures of a lot of their space crafts.
Q&A with the 9th Doctor, Christopher Eccleston was very good. Better than I had anticipated
ESA made presentation on the James Webb telescope. A fantastic new instrument that is now starting its work on really deep space imaging in the near infrared spectrum.
Meeting more fans, of course.
It comes through very clearly that the ESA people are as happy coming to the con as we are seeing them here year after year.

Sunday:
This was a more quiet day with some autographs, and a few panels.
The “breakfast panel” with Brent Spiner and Jonathan Frakes was real good fun.

Suddenly the Fedcon is over. Spent all of Sunday evening chatting with other fans.

Excellent convention …

Monday it was time to go home, and I managed to arrive at my house just before midnight.

 

Musings on Fringe, Season 1. [Spoilers]

A few thoughts on season 1 of Fringe:

Characters:

Walter Bishop (John Noble), the mad – or maybe not so mad – scientist who has done research for the defence dept. then being in an asylum for about 17 years. His specialty was – and is – fringe science, all outside the reach of science, though a bit of it may be possible. Not quite stable, but brilliant when allowed in his best moments.

Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson), son of Walter also, high IQ, has been operating as a con man for a while.

Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), a very good FBI agent, has photographic memory, among many other abilities. She has been working well with her partner John Scott. Yes, they were lovers, too.

Astrid Farnsworth (Jasika Nicole) assists the trio, mainly taking care of Walter,

Those are the main characters, Some more of the ensemble cast are:

Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick), takes Olivia into the Fringe Division, an unofficial part of Homeland.

Charlie Francis (Kirk Acevedo), most often assisting agent Dunham in the investigations.

Nina Sharp (Blair Brown), executive director of Massive Dynamics, a very large corporation formed by William Bell, Walter’s old partner in fringe science research.

Summary:

In season 1 we encounter a number of fringe events, in the beginning they appear unrelated, but as we progress there seems to be a pattern emerging – the term “Find the Pattern” is literally stated a few times.

One thing that appears in every episode (if you can spot it) is an Observer. Those are mysterious characters, invariably dressed in suit and hat, to me looking like 1930s style. When they are first noticed by Olivia it turns out they they have been seen throughout history, appearing at significant events. In addition they seem to have an almost non-existent sense of taste, as seen in one episode. In season 1 they are still a total mystery.

We learn that Olivia appears to have some unusual abilities that look like telekinesis. It turns out that Walter and William Bell experimented with children a few decades ago, and Olivia was one of them. That is when it gets interesting.

One more aspect that appears in this season is the concept of a parallel universe, of course in an episode titled “There Is More Than One of Everything”.

Activity, February to April 2022.

This spring has not been as active, scifi-wise.

I finished the Sense8 rewatch before going to the Sense8Con3.

The Fringe rewatch continues, and by the end of April seasons 1 – 3 were completed, and season 4 is in progress. One episode per day when time allows.

The spring is in full swing, and some garden activities are necessary.

I have made a very modest start with setting up a set of two solar panels to power some of my amateur radio activities.

 

Sense8Con3 in Paris, and a Visit.

In the past week end I went to the third Sense8Con in Paris.

The convention was, of course delayed 2 years due to the COVID-19 situation. While restrictions have largely been lifted, The convention did, however, require mask wearing at the convention activities, with the exception of photo ops.

Tis convention was much smaller than the previous one 3 years ago, as some people could not afford to go, and others had previous appointments at the convention days.

This made the convention even more close-knit than the others I have attended, and I got to meet some attendees from the previous one, and got to meet some new ones.

The (actor) guests this time were:

Tina Desai (once more) who played Kala in Mumbai.

Purab Kohli who played Rajan

Toby Onwumere who played Capheus in Nairobi, and

Paul Ogola who played Jela.

All of them were quite entertaining at the panels/Q&As, and responded to fan questions with very lively answers.

At the previous con I had asked about their relations to writers – evryone had been talking mostly about Lana Wachowski, so I put the focus on the co-creator J. Michael Straczynski (JMS).

All were appreciative of the writer’s, no surprise, because without a writer there will be no story. At the con 3 years ago Tina told how she tried to get JMS to open up to her, and how she was happy to break through, as they had much in common.

Tis time she told us how JMS would always be available to fill in back story for the characters, as he was the only one who had the time during the filming/production, as he was, of course, very involved in the creation of the characters and the story.

Paul Ogola had a special appreciation, as he has done some writing himself.

At the autograph sessions there was ample time for the guests to chat a bit with the fans, due to the small size of the convention.

I managed to make a few photos with the phone, and here is one. I may add more later. Tina Desai at the special panel:

After the convention I made a visit to one of the filming locations. In the series it is named The Lacuna, a place which is “in this world, but not of this world”. This is filmed at the ruins of an abandoned abbey in a village near the city of Brussels, the initial building of this started in the mid 12th century.

If one is interested in old architecture and ruins, this is definitely a site to visit, and for a fan of Sense8 it is well worth standing in The Lacuna, which is in the remains of the church of the abbey. Here is the one illustrating The Lacuna:

Both pictures in this post are right out of the camera (my phone), completely un-edited.

I may try to find time to look at, and edit a few more of the pictures from the convention, but this is all for now.

Scifi Activity, January 2022

Got to watch a bit this month:

Films:

A drama-documentary about Einstein and Eddington – 7/10

A new Netflix original scifi: Don’t Look  Up A political satire  around a comet hitting Earth – 7/10

TV:

Season 4 of the Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai. Quite enjoyable – 8/10

The Expanse series finale An excellent series, and an excellent season 6 – 9/10

The Torchwood mini-series in 5 parts: Children of Earth. While I did not find the Torchwood seres in general all too enjoyable, this is an excellent piece of TV – 9/10

Season 1 of Fringe rewatch. Still excellent, the first season is a good introduction to the characters and the universe as such – 8/10

Started a rewatch of Sense8. Just about mid-season 1, and running.

The Fringe watch was a bit too fast, so the next season will probably be a bit less than 1 episode per day. Sense8 will just continue, probably with about one episode per day.

The days are getting longer, and some other activity is needed, indoors and outdoors.

More Rewatch: Sense8 and Fringe.

This month I have started a rewatch of two of my high ranking series:

Sense8:

I am now mid-season 1. The story is as good as I remembered, enjoying it a lot.

The filming/cinematography is excellent, the “visiting” scenes filmed in two or more places is so well done, it feels seamless, and we are now getting to know the characters better.

Fringe: Just watched season 1, episode 7 “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”.

John Noble is wonderful as Walter Bishop. It does not detract from the other actors, but his performance really shines all from the beginning.

I am taking both series in a moderate tempo, no big binging with many episodes per day. Sense4 has a total of 24 episodes, and I go for one every one or two days, maybe with short breaks. Fringe has 100 episodes, so one or two per day will be the norm, also with possible breaks.

After this I would like to do a Babylon 5 rewatch, but I want to see the remastered version, and it is not yet available on physical media, and I have not yet found it included in the streaming services I have. I may have to wait for a while.