The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

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  1. I’m trying to decide about the new Star Trek movie. Should I be a purist and be offended by it, as a money-seeking project? Will it be as campy as the First Contact inanity? Will there be better special effects in this one other that the thing behind Data’s head that was purchased at Helen Gallagher’s?
    OR, will they get it right this time, and will it be worth the 40 bucks to go see?

  2. Forty bucks? You’re kidding, right?

  3. I’m guessing (hoping) that seanp will be obligated to take his family along, and there’s a total of four of them. (Well, I’d like to hope that there’s five of them, because I’d like to hope that somewhere in this country you can still get into a theatre for $8, but I doubt it.)

  4. $8.25 to $8.50 where I am, if you insist on an evening show. Of course, I like a drink and some Buncha Crunch with my Star Trek, so double that.

    What on earth is the point of being offended by “money seeking” in Star Trek? You are twenty years too late for that! It’s been a looooong time since the “artist/vision” guys made the decisions in the Star Trek franchise.

    We’re lucky that Abrams is running it. Not because he’s artistically superior or any such thing–everyone’s got their own opinions on Abrams–but because he has… what is it, “hollywood charisma”? The name and drive to stare down a room full of Paramount execs and say “here’s how it’s going to be,” instead of having to mollify the same guys who ran ST nose-first into the dirt over the last 15 years, failed show after failed show, stupid movie after cheap stupid movie.

    If Abrams fails, it will at least be a wholly different flavor of failure this time.

  5. I swear there was a scene in the last movie in which a moving star field in a window behind someone’s head was implemented using ping-pong balls on wires.

    Seriously, I don’t expect realism or logic or even continuity out of Star Trek, but maybe they can at least buy some average special effects for a sci-fi movie? Like a starfield that looks like it might have actual stars?

    I really don’t want to see the damn seam made by a clumsy mapping of a square texture to a sphere, and I also don’t want to see the same damn star cluster 32 times because they couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a random pattern for the whole surface….

    Anyhow, I didn’t watch the last series, Enterprise at all, but I was shocked that some of the movies made during the TNG/Deep-Space-9/Voyager periods had such crappy f/x compared to the TV shows.

  6. I just read skzb’s link to Delany’s 1998 essay in NYRSF.

    Even apart from the fascinating content, this really demonstrates Delany’s mastery of writing. It’s just beautiful prose: thoughtful, deliberate, elegant, direct, clean, and to the point.

    There are few if any other living writers I can think of who can combine such a high intellectual level of discourse with such clarity and such easily readable language.

  7. Ever end up in a little town of barely 200 people and stop for lunch at a dingy BBQ joint only to discover it’s a gourmet restaurant being run as a retirement business by a former French chef from the Four Seasons hotel? I love things like that.

    Burton is only 40 miles form CS, and if you can catch the Brazos Belle when it’s open – the chef actually has a “Gone Fishing” sign for when the whim to take off hits – it’s well worth the trip some weekend. And they’ve fixed it up so it looks like a country inn now; much better ambience.

    Yes, that’s just a random food thought, but today I passed a small restuarant that specializes in wild game and another with a sign that just said “Pastry cafe”, both with smells wafting out to back up the promises on their signs, and random thoughts of food have been with me all afternoon.

  8. Miramon: Exactly. That’s just what I was thinking. Well put.

    L. Raymond: Oh, my. That sounds wonderful.

  9. I ate the best tasting thing ever the other day.

    These little goats cheese filled tortellini, each one had a single sultana on top, each one had a little prawn next to it. The whole dish was covered in a slightly burnt butter and pine nuts.

    The goats cheese was explosive and made your tongue tingle and then the sultana popped and the the tang of the cheese was cut by a sweetness that just kinda had sex and made yum in your mouth and through it all there was the sweet sublte texture of prawn and butter.

    I could have died happy. Never tasted anything like it that made the taste buds do so many flip flops of tastes at once.

  10. Food is depressing right now – just got back from a 2 week cruise to hawaii (last vacation for a long while) and now have to deal with my own cooking. On the plus side I experiment a touch w/ my regular meals (the wife likes things simple and bland – I try to jazz them up. The meal description segments from Dzur made me want to learn proper cooking for a while, but I decided I was too lazy. – rather do something on a whim than try to follow something complex. Food follows mood – I tend to experiment more when I am hungry but without specific cravings

  11. – Those in power seem to depend of a boogie man (either a person or thing created through fabrication and/or a kernel of truth) to scare the intellectually lazy masses to justify their position in power.

    – Can a virus that has to date killed less than 100 people be considered a pandemic?

  12. Miramon@5: At least they didn’t make them all twinkly. The one thing worse than not bothering with special effects is spending a lot of effort and money on special effects that are inaccurate.

    schmwarf@11: It hasn’t crossed continents yet, so no.

  13. @11 The phrase used by the wHO was “pandemic potential”; what the media are harping on is another thing entirely. In the actual WHO reports, the concern is very simply stated:

    The majority of these cases have occurred in otherwise healthy young adults. Influenza normally affects the very young and the very old, but these age groups have not been heavily affected in Mexico.

    Because there are human cases associated with an animal influenza virus, and because of the geographical spread of multiple community outbreaks, plus the somewhat unusual age groups affected, these events are of high concern. (source)

    The American CDC is even more restrained. They recommend medical personnel in only three US counties keep an eye out for this flu – 2 in California, 1 in Texas.

    Be coolly cynical if it pleases you, but if you buy into everything you hear in the media without checking original sources, you’re one of the intellectually lazy masses of which you are critical.

  14. 12 – One of the biggest inaccuracies on special effects is all the noise in space.

    13 – I agree with you and be assured I’m not intellectually lazy when it comes things such as SARS, bird flu, swine flue etc (can’t comment on other things though).

    I actually knew the answer to my original question. The tone behind it is hard to deliver in non-verbal form.

    One of my people said to me this morning that they want to wear a mask when they are on the bus because of what they saw in the news (stock footage of Asians wearing surgical masks – most likely taken from the SARS era).

    I told her that since we are in Perth, Australia (geographically as far away from the source as you can get) that the current chances of her contracting the Swine Flu (let alone dying from it) are the same as been kicked to death by a duck.

  15. I was kicked by a duck once. Once.

  16. Ducks. Why is it always ducks?

    Sorry if I jumped too hard; here in the states one constantly sees people panicking, claiming conspiracies, and most of all always going to extremes and never taking time to understand details like the difference between “possible pandemic” and “head for the hills”. It can make me crazy sometimes.

    But about ducks. We’ve got this wierd infestation of whistling tree ducks in my neighborhood. When twilight falls and they all start chirping at once, the air is filled with this wierd demonic cacophany that would make Lovecraft’s whip-poor-wills scurry off in fear.

    I’m not used to ducks in trees.

  17. 14- Space ship laser weapons have to be the single most inaccurately portrayed special effect. Sound _and_ light path visibility in a vacuum? If the “peeew!” sounds weren’t so cool, I’d almost get annoyed.

    15- You have my deepest sympathy.

  18. Check out this site regarding Bad Astronomy in Sci Fi films. The author is an ex NASA astrophysicist.

    http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/index.html

  19. I just want to say I LOVE the new hookah Steve got me for my birthday today. Whee!!!!

  20. I am an enormous fan and have read (and own) all of skzb’s books.

    Except one. I haven’t read “My Own Kind of Freedom”. This is because I know absolutely *nothing* about Firefly, and I don’t like to read any novel if I haven’t read the prerequisites.

    So, can someone please tell me what I should go and read before reading “My Own Kind of Freedom”? (Or is it a movie or TV show I need to watch first? Remember, I know *nothing*…)

    Thanks!

  21. Terry @20: Firefly is available on DVD (if you’re a Netflix user, they’ve got it), thirteen episodes of greatly underrated sci-fi. The movie Serenity (also avail.) is excellent, and can be watched without seeing the show, though with only thirteen episodes there’s no reason you’d need to–it’s not like you need to catch up on five seasons’ worth.

    As good as “My Own Kind of Freedom” is, it was written with a narrative/stylistic choice that I think would make it very difficult for someone with no Firefly experience to follow.

    But that’s just my opinion… having already seen Firefly I can only guess how “My Own Kind of Freedom” reads to someone who doesn’t know the characters at all, even their names.

    The good news is Firefly and Serenity are well worth seeing whether you do the reading afterward or not, so you can only gain. 🙂

  22. I will only add that Firefly is the only television SF I’ve ever liked (well, “ever” being defined as after age 8).

  23. I also think Firefly is worthwhile and entertaining. I watched it on DVD.

    I think it has a lot of lame inconsistencies, logic flaws, and random throwaway sci-fi silliness, but it’s still head and shoulders better than any other SF TV series I’ve seen except The Prisoner, which is now, what, 40 years old or so?.

    Some of the intermediate episodes, especially the ones focusing on Inara (IMO the Troi of the series) bored me, but even so, with all this half-praise, Firefly was hugely better than most other television, which I generally can’t stand to watch at all anymore except a few rare series on DVD.

  24. I’ve had to let someone go at work due to no fault of his own.

    It’s rather upsetting.

  25. Ouch. That sucks for you both.

  26. I’ve said it before…
    I’m not an educated reader so I’m curious, Mr. Brust, and anybody else, do you read other fantasy writers such as Robert Jordan, David Eddings, Terry Brooks and the like?
    I tend to read books and see them in my head like movies. Does this make me a bad reader? Even if I am, are thier any suggestions for further cool books? I just bought a Roger Zelazny book because everyone else is between stuff right now and this author seems to come highly recommended. Will someone hook me up with some advice? I’m reading faster than my favorite authors produce.

  27. Some of my own favorites are (in no particular order) Roger Zelazny, Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Pamela Dean, Tim Powers, Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman, Jacqueline Carey, Jane Yolen, Robin Hobb, and Glen Cook.

  28. What did you think of Glen Cook’s first Instrumentalities of the Night book? I read it twice about 2 months apart, and I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. Which is rare for me to have that sort of reaction. Normally I tend towards a very… um… visceral reaction to writing, one way or another.

    In other news… I bought the company I worked for. It seems that I have found in the 2 weeks since the contracts were signed that I’m prone to mass paranoia, convinced that everything’s going to go wrong. I think I’m a pessimist. Which is odd. I’ve always considered myself a realist… but that may not be the case. Whoops.

  29. Haven’t read that one yet. And congratulations, hope it works out well for you.

  30. I got halfway through the first Instrumentalities of the Night book and gave up. When I noticed that staring out the windows of an underground subway car was more appealing than slogging through the book, I took it as a hint.

  31. I was a little disappointed in the first two Instrumentalities books, but I still like Cook’s style. Disjointed short sentences. And all. And it has. Some fun and cool parts too.

    The quasi-European setting doesn’t really work for me, though, and the picaresque approach also doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s kind of like a military fantasy soap opera in a way, but the characters don’t seem quite as grand as those of say the Black Company or Dread Empire, for example.

  32. skzb@27:

    I like most of the authors on that list, rating a couple as absolutely top notch, but the one or two things by Robin Hobb I looked at I didn’t like. What is Hobb’s best book, would you say?

  33. Miramon @ 32:
    I’ve tried Hobb twice off various recommendations.

    The “Mad Ship” series I found to be beautifully conceived and written; a strange and brilliant world, but with characters I thought were very unsympathetic. I never finished it because I kinda stopped caring if the good guys won.

    “Assassin’s Apprentice” was a little less clever to me, a world that, in concept and execution, seemed very “insert generic fantasy world here,” but the characters and plot were likable and inventive. That would be my recommendation. Curious what others think…

  34. My favorite Robin Hobb works are still the ones she wrote as Megan Lindholm. Try Wizard of the Pigeons, if you can find it.

  35. I’ve read most of the Robin Hobb books, I mostly enjoy them. Though I think the endings always leave me a little cold. I’m not sure why. But they do. The latest trilogy, that Soldier’s Son series, was alltogether odd to me.

    I met her a few years ago in Melbourne when she was here for a con though, and she seemed like an all around lovely motherish short, so I like to buy the books in support of nice people everywhere.

    Heh.

    @31, I’d pretty much agree with you with the Cook sentiments. He seemed to focus less on the characters and more on the… structure and organization which made it hard for me to feel involved. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good. It was just… kinda there.

  36. Adam@26
    Congratulations on finding Roger Zelazny. I am not sure what book you found but in general they are all great. My favorites are Lord of Light, a great intro to RZ and the Amber series which consist of two five book series, starting with Nine Princes in Amber.

    GWW@35
    My disappointment with the Soldier series was that I was liking the direction of the first book and the path of the main character and then it all got pulled away and the series was like, “This is not the book you are looking for, move along.” I think it would have been better broken out as two trilogies, like Fitz. That said I do like all of the Robin Hobb books.

  37. @20, I am a little confused. I havent been able to find a book titled, “My own kind of Freedom”, but when I did a search for it on Amazon I got a book called, “Firefly” by Whitney Hamilton.

    I dont see the correlation between this book and the TV series (which I am a HUGE Fan of).

  38. You can find the Firefly book here: http://dreamcafe.com/firefly.html

    It was a web release, not a print format.

  39. Awesome, thanks GWW!

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