Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Sad Day with a Historic Passing

Today readers I was saddened to hear that the first man on the moon had passed away. That's right ladies and gentlemen the man who said 'The Eagle has landed' and made that historic walk has passed today leaving us with a great legacy to be fulfilled. He was the first to leave his prints on the lunar soil, and they shall remain there as a legacy to him for millenia to come. Yes Neil Armstrong has passed away today.

Though he was not the last man in the moon we have much to do to live up to this brave pioneer's legacy. Though we have not set foot on the moon in over four decades we can only hope we will do so again in the future so the bravery, sacrfice and courage of these early space exlporers can live on and give us a shining hope in the 21st century.

Let us remember the many historic moment when he said 'That's one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.' I salute you Neil Armstrong and may your memory spur us all on to greater deeds as we gaze starward and begin to explore that final frontier.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Facebook page

So some of you may have noticed my new header which leads to a Facebook link. In my efforts at networking and getting known I have established a Facebook page which will be hosting a link to my blog, updates and samples of my writing in time to come. As well I will post the usual funny images, links to interesting articles I stumble across and so on.

I'm hoping it can generate some interest and revenue on the web and hopefully lead to some attention from other sources eventually.

A bit of a shameless advert I non-the-less hope people will like me on Facebook. Please feel free to browse it at your leisure.

In the meantime, happy internet trails!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Movie Review: Total Recall

Once again it is time to go into review territory on this blog! Dear readers this past weekend I was priviledged to view the new (if you count a remake as new) film, Total Recall! It was something I had been looking forward to seeing and being something of a film critic I was hoping I wouldn't have to tear it apart, or compare it to the original in a great number of ways. So sit back readers and let me thrill you with tales of what could be.

Total Recall was originally a 1990 action film staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Micheal Ironside and Ronny Cox. It was a wacky action thriller featuring Arnold smacking goons around and dealing with a war between mutants and the corrupt government officials of Mars. There were of course many trippy scenes where they keep the viewer guessing as to whether all of this is real or not, as Mr S just happened to have gone to a little shop called 'Recall' to get away from his dull and boring life but seemingly gets more than what he bargained for...

In our 2012 remake the plot we have the poor, bored, down on his game worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrel) who is suffering from a recurring dream where he and a mysterious woman break out of a government facility only to be recaptured in a spectacular fashion! He has this dream everyday much to the concern of his loving wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale). He is convinced by a co-worker to visit a place called Rekall in order to have memories transplanted into his brain of things he would like to do. So he goes on a journey into what his life might look like...or does he?

The film is excellent at keeping viewers guessing up until the last minute (even after then too). And has a well done if simplistic plot that is believable and doesn't quite stretch the boundries of the world established for itself.

The Good:

The film is fast as an action movie should be. Good pacing with the plot and honestly no obvious moments where I was scratching my head going 'what the hell just happened?" which is always a good thing. The action was fast paced and the explosions were terrific. I thought the world was fairly well created and fleshed out.

The fight scenes were in general, awesome, if one can put it bluntly. The action was fast, well choregraphed and intense. It comes at you like a gun totting kung-fu movie with androids. The shoot outs are fun, intersperced with some interesting locales for fist and gun fights as well as a few genius escapes. There is a particularly amazing moment when the main characters are escaping on a magnetic highway which has cars literally hanging off the edge and they escape in a rather...uncoventional way shall we say?

The acting was competant and well what you can expect for an action movie. There was no intense characterization and the viewers were given as much to work with as necessary, nothing more nothing less. A few of the reasons why certain characters like or hated each other were left ambiguous, so there was a little dangling of ideas and reasoning behind characters actions which the audience couldn't really get a feel for making their motivations somewhat cloudy. Kate Beckinsale does a remarkable job portraying Douglas's homocidal wife/keeper. In the meantime we have some well done scenes between Farrel's character and Biel's which establishes the romance subplot without getting in the way of the meaty action.

The plot is very similar to the original Total Recall's and has a few hilarious shout outs to the older film. It also has a great way of screwing with your head. Mind you the ending is much less ambiguous than the original's ending but it still leaves the viewer questioning reality.

The Bad:

Well good the movie is far from perfect. It does lack in the plot department and the ending did leave something to be desired but was still entertaining.

The music, well the music wasn't exactly stellar. It had a decent score but unlike many films I actually barely noticed it, save for the secne where Douglas is playing the Moonlight Sonata. That doesn't really bode well for it in that department. Visually while the film was appealing it still felt rather fake, at least in the panoramic shots. I could easily tell where things were fake and where they were real.

Overall though I have no real nit picky criticisms of the film. It set out to do exactly what it wished to do, make a decent, modern, and action packed remake of Total Recall. It did this very well and I can't fault the acting really and I never had my expectations set to high. It was exactly what I set out to see.

The film recieves 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Writing update: Wordle

So for a little update on my writing work here is a little wordle picture made from chapters one and two from Fugitive. It helps me see what words I use the most, as well as present a cool picture to view. I think it's a useful tool. As an aside it is hilariously fun as well for those of you who enjoy that kind of whimsical art style!

I sincerely think my readers should experiment with it sometime if they get the chance.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Ruminations on Interstellar Travel

Recently I was reading National Geographic and its lengthy issue on space. Of particular interest to me was the colonization of Mars and the approximately thousand year long terraforming process which got me thinking (again) about the future of mankind among the stars.

I have been an avid reader of science fiction since I was young from books like Star Hatchling or the young adult Star Wars novels like the Galaxy of Fear series. I graduated on to reading the works of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein and wonderful novels like Dune, Starship Troopers, or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I loved the series and I was eventually reading the Halo novels which were very well done. Since then I've always had heady visions of space colonization and space battles.

Most recently I've been reading the Honor Harrington series which has really captured my interest. The series is extremely technical giving immense details on the technical data of the science behind the universe, and almost as importantly, the immense distances involved in travel among the stars and the vast distances that occupy even a single star system.

It has been immensely helpful for the opening stages of my own science fiction novel. Especially for some pivotal scenes involving space pirates thus far.

Establishing a proper timeline for the story has been a bit trickier, especially because of my thoughts on interstellar travel. Faster than light travel is something that we currently don't possess so making a viable means either relies on technobabble jargon or by extrapolating on currently shaky sciences. Since mankind has yet to travel well beyond earths orbit (in any manned capacity that is) I have come down to using more vague terms for my own science fiction such as 'hyper space' and 'jump drives' to describe the process.

The way I see it to have a decent history for an interstellar star nation one needs to have at least three centuries of colonization, which if you want to set it in something like the year 2600 or so requires mankind to have some decent terraforming technology and an adequete FTL technolgy else you have to rely on generational ships and an increase in earth-like planets (which while not impossible, it is still highly unlikely to have them concentrated in any nice dense array without a little push from the human race in my opinion). Mind you the previous thought is best regulated to 'hard' science fiction, while mine is going to be on the softer side, I am trying to make it as semi-realistic of possible to help with the suspension of disbelief.

You see in my science fiction (the Service to the State series as the name is thus far) I have developed a fairly intricate backstory for the nation of the Commonwealth, its worlds having been settled five hundred years before the current story line and then clawing their way to independence in order to form their own nation. The galaxy shattering events which lead to their independence (various wars and revolutions) all require FTL in a reliable shape so that they can carry out interplanetary war on a realistic scale. It needs to be both relatively easy to aquire and maintain, but difficult enough that it has some drawbacks and disadvantages to keep it from being a sort of easy way out for ships in a jam. I have no real grasp of the advanced sciences required though so I have to avoid the 'info-dumps' of the Honor Harrington series and rely more on characters, events, and conflict rather than the interesting hard sciences to keep people reading!

The problems with mapping a decent timeline this presents are large. Due to many realisations of both scale, and realism I have revised my initial timeline at least three times now. I'm sure I'll be forced to do this more in the future as I attempt to make the story as 'hard' as I can. Thus far though, both the story and the timeline are progressing well. I hope to have a rough draft for the entire story in place by the end of the year.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Brought to you by Satan

Now before I post this article I suppose I should clear this up that I personally am a Christian who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he died for my sins and along with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost will lead me to eternal salvation.

In light of my beliefs I am usually surprised by both the virtrol and the stupidity of people when it comes to understanding my faith (or any other peoples belief for that matter) in regards to both theology, practices, and what constitutes the sacred. In my time I've dealt with those who are of  the militant atheist stripe in both real life and on the internet (I'm thankful to say that I remain friends with the atheists in my life despite some lively debates on the subject). I usually come across the regular anti-religious pomp and bigotry on the internet and I'm never really surprised by it. The ignorant who like to flout their 'knowledge' of the subject of Christianity really astound me, especially those who claim to have been Christians before turning to atheism. In my many conversations with them I rarely found them to have an even basic grasp of the Gospel or even the words of Jesus Himself! So I always have to question their so called 'knowledge'.

But recently on Facebook I found this little goody that made me laugh.

I'll give readers a moment to browse the flow chart. For those of you who have pondered the question before absorb it. For those of you who have seen this question multiple times and always had faith laugh with me now as I go on to explain the folly found within.

The flowchart (posted by a user with the name satan, hence our title) proclaims itself 'the quick and easy guide to God' and is anything but! Instead it asks some relatively simple questions after the statement of fact evil exists. I'll say to readers right now, yes evil does exist. Whether the corrupt politician lining his pockets with ill begotten money, the pimp abusing women as sex slaves, or the terrorist preparing to detonate himself to blow up a bus full of school children evil in the human heart surrounds us as a part of the human condition.

The chart then proceeds with a number of questions such as 'Can God prevent evil?" or 'Does God know about all the evil?" and with each 'no' answer one is directed to the conclusion that God is either not all powerful, knowing, or loving. Mind you of course that each time no is answered that is in direct contradiction to the Scripture, and since one must use the Scripture to get to know God and His divine nature it is fairly obvious that the no answers are really baits early on until we get to the final assertion 'Could God have created the universe without these?' in which case the logic goes that if he could we have two answers as to why He didn't create the universe without evil because a) free will or b) He wished to test us.

Now the chart responds that if a) Could God have created the universe with free will but without evil? Now here I have to step in because when we go from here the reasoning gets rather cloudy. Let me ask this, if all that is good and just stems from the Lord and he gave us the free will to chose otherwise what is logically all that is the opposite of what He loves? That would be what you call evil correct? Of course it would for "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17). That which is just is pleasing to the Lord. Everything else such as perversion, theft, and debauchery is a sin. So if God created the universe without evil then he would created it full of everything pure and holy and mankind would either not be in it, or unthinking robots who had no choice but to praise God and would rob Him of the very beings He created to inhabit his Garden. Now is seems even the chart recognizes this problem so it comes at us with choice b for what I suppose the creator figures is his coup-de-grace.

Choice b) is that God wished to test us and have faith in times of need to see who is worthy of salvation. Now the answer always to the idea of being tested is 'if God is all knowing He would know what we would do if we were tested and therefore would have no need to test us' this has two problems. One it commits the infinitely hilarious fallacy of saying that 'God must' or 'God would' as though the writing of the author and his opinions have any real reflection on how the creator of the universe is going to behave. The second problem is that it tries to undermine that God is all knowing by saying He would know how we would react when we are tested and therefore have no need to test us. Now those of you who understand why we have faith in Christianity should already be shaking your heads and saying how foolish this is, those who are scratching their heads and saying 'this makes perfect sense' allow me to disabuse you of that notion.

God is all knowing and 'the very hairs on your head are numbered'  as God knows all about all of us and all about each of our actions. When we sin it is plain to God what we have done, yet he forgives us in his infinite glory and wisdom. However, despite the fact that God is all knowing and all powerful He gives us the choice in how we are to react before Him or accept his forgiveness and He knows what to send against us and whether we can muster to the challenge or not. This we must do on faith. Take for example Job, whom God allowed to be tested beyond the reasonable limits of any man in order to prove that he was a good and faithful man. Satan took away his sons and daughters, his lands, his health and his dignity, but Job stood by his God knowing that even though he would suffer he would be rewarded in the next life. Again the choice lies in human hands as to whether they will accept His forgiveness just as the choice as to whether we would sin in the beggining lay in Adam and Eve's hands, despite knowing we had the option of choosing evil God allowed us to go ahead and do as we willed. Like Job he tests us to show us that no matter what is sent against us He will be there in the end and that we should accept Him regardless of what comes. As to knowing how we would react, this assigns a sort of human logic to God that by knowing the outcome he wouldn't do it again putting this silly notion that God must function according to the authors will rather than His own mysterious ways.

Now as a note in regard to the great tempter himself we have Satan whome all evil and rebellion stems from. Satan is a fallen angel who was regarded high in God's court and deciding that he was the most beautiful and powerful that he deserved to be God's equal. He was cast out with all his followers. Now he goes around tempting people and attempting to turn them away from God in an act of petty spite, while he knows his days are numbered and that in the end he will lose to the Most High. The chart says that 'An all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, God could and would destroy Satan, sigh, that silly notion again. As the Bible says, Satan will be destroyed and sent forth into the lake of eternal fire. There is simply a time for that and it is coming. In the meantime Satan will continue a campaign of petty spite to try and overthrow God by destroying we who are precious to Him. In the end Satan will fall and the world will be saved.

Now I know full well that those of you who do not wish to believe will certainly not after I have trashed this sore chart and its assumptions. Then again those who do believe will be reafirmed in your faith and sing his praises with me. Then of course there are those of you who have had a seed planted in you and are on the road to accepting Him. Maybe I have put you one step closer to having faith in Him, perhaps I haven't. He alone knows these things. We on the other hand must have faith in Him, as after all if these things were certain and we knew the infinite nature of God what we do would not be called faith now would it?