Monthly Archives: May 2011

What Did You Do For Your Job Today?

Me: Built a couple of tables in the Data Warehouse, continued to be surprised at the rigidity of  Teradata, put off yet again that division-wide SOA meeting

These dudes: Spent the day arguing the merits of various landing sites for Curiosity (personally, I’m partial to Gale Crater)

Current career: 0

Planning for the future: +1

I meant to post something like this last week when the conference wrapped up…

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Review: Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

Tomorrow When The War BeganI learned of Tomorrow, When The War Began by John Marsden while trolling the Twitterverse. Cory Doctrow retweeted @Churba about a book and mentioned how great it was. That’s about all it took for me to find it at my local library and put it on reserve. I must also mention that I did cursory review on Amazon and I have to say that this is the first book I have seen there with a 5-star review, with more than 150+ reviews. Everybody can’t be wrong!

So I dive in an immediately, I am thinking Wolverines, Australian-style (BTW, they betnot mess up one of my all-time favorite movies with the 2011 remake). The book is classified as YA and the author does keep it simple. Not gory, not overly intense. But, he gave me a great feel for what it’s like to live “out in the country” in Australia. The scenery descriptions were spot on and I could imagine myself walking around the semi-civilized outback.

As for the story itself, I’ll rate it an “OK”. The premise is pretty clear. And after a little thought, I have to agree that a blitz against the Australians would catch the world by surprise. But, I would like to think that an invasion of this magnitude would kick off WWIII. Most stories I read are focused on the US, it was great to step outside of that comfort zone with Tomorrow.

And I am a sucker for apocalyptic stories. Having someone invade your country is just as good as zombies in my book. I pushed through to the end and found myself really caring for these kids. A very diverse bunch, each of them finding their way in their new reality. The protag is great. A girl (for a change), with the guts and determination to make some big moves for the group. I found each of the characters to be realistic and easily imagined a younger version of myself or a slightly older version of my kids in the same scenario.

I will be recommending this as a read for my daughter. Although, she finally agreed to read the 1st Harry Potter and I must take that opportunity while it exists. Maybe this can be on-deck after the Sorcerer’s Stone.

After visiting the author’s site (http://www.johnmarsden.com.au/home.html), I saw that there was a movie for the book as well. It was released in Australia in 2010. Hopefully, it will make its way to US region DVDs/BluRays this summer. The trailer is below (pretty smokin!)

Sorry Shuttle, Mine Eyes Will Not See You Fly :(

For the longest time, I had “See a space shuttle flight” on my TODO list. There is only one more to go and unfortunately, I have not hit it big with a hot web app (90s’), nor a spectacular mobile app (00’s). Thus, there is no spare cash to flit me back and forth to Florida to catch an ever delayed launch (got to keep the day job). So, I’ll have to revise this particular TODO.

Hopefully, with the onset of some really exciting happenings in the commercial space flight arena, I may still get that opportunity to feel the rumble of thousands of pounds of thrust in my bones. SpaceX is leasing out Pad #40 and with the coming the Falcon 9 Heavy, I may get the opp to see a new Lunar or Martian mission push up and out of the gravity well.

And if I do eventually hit it big with the next goldrush in technology (nano?), maybe I’ll be able to afford to not only watch, but participate. Assuming that Mrs. Calrissian will allow me to see the dark side of the moon.

Image from Quest for Stars’ Senatobia-1 Mission: http://twitpic.com/photos/questforstars.

Review: The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier, Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier, Dreadnaught (note: I did not read this book in a few days, but completed it before I could post the review of the last one)

I absolutely devoured the first Lost Fleet series. A great “realistic” version of space battle (no super weapons here, just pure physics). And although I was about burnt out by time I read the last book (which was somewhat of a let down), I was excited to hear about the new series.  The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier, Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell continues with more of the same. However, it’s subpar to the first series thus far.

The first third of the book is focused on politics. What’s the alliance going to do now that Black Jack has brought the fleet home and won the war? Which senators or other members of the government are conspiring against Geary? What about at fleet headquarters? Geary and Captain Desjani debate and counterdebate with other leading members of the fleet as they also take on their new mission: seek out the enigma race and find out what they want.

Once the fleet gets underway, the action picks up pretty quickly. And in trademark Campbell style, the author does a great job of making a days long encounter exciting and fun. But where the first series had a lot of intrigue and mystery in between the battles as the fleet tried to fight their way home, this new novel has some pretty boring “in betweens”. I felt like much of the time was setup for what we will see further down the line in the series. The story ends with a lot of unanswered questions. So I’m holding my breath right now…

I’m going to hold off my final verdict for now…and we’ll see after book 2 (8 in the total series)…

When you have a sec, be sure to visit the author’s web site (under his real name, John Hemry; Campbell is a pseudonym):

http://www.johnghemry.com/

Review: Center of Gravity: Star Carrier, Book Two by Ian Douglas

Center of Gravity: Star Carrier, Book TwoA decent follow-up to the first novel in this series. Center of Gravity: Star Carrier, Book Two by Ian Douglas continues the human push against the Sh’daar and their proxy warrior races in battles between the stars.

I reviewed the first book in the series a few weeks ago and I had the follow up waiting on the “to read” pile. There are no surprises here. The main characters continue to fight. The aliens continue to press against humanity. More explosions. More space battles. Some character development. Except this time, the humans take the fight to foreign territory. Overall I was a little let down though. Maybe it’s because I have been reading too many books in this genre for quite a while. But, parts of the story just seemed to be out of focus. For humans to be so near transcendence, they still come across things that wow them.

And here is another example: there is a scene where a couple of characters are speculating on why the Sh’daar want to block the GRIN technologies: “Maybe part of the Sh’daar has transcended and those left behind are mad about it” (in so many words).  And sure enough a few pages later, we get some hints from the alien side that that is exactly what has happened. Really? We humans are so smart. Okay.

I guess I am becoming a much more discriminating reader. I want deep intrigue. I want something to twist my mind around. I guess that’s what Inception has done to all of us. With all of that said, if this is a trilogy, I will be reading the next one.

Titanium Rain Is Coming True

A few years ago, I was browsing around one of Columbus’ best comic shops and stumbled upon a great graphic novel. Titanium Rain, by Josh Finney (author) and Kat Rocha (illustrator), chronicles a combat pilot that’s a part of an elite unit that has undergone cybernetic enhancements to increase their combat potential.

The timeline: in the near future

The battlefield: a Chinese civil war (I love the name Jade Empire)

Throw in a few early prototype mechas & some UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) and you have the makings of a great story!

So while I wait on volume 2 of the story to be delivered, I read at Wired the other day that the next step in the evolution of the UCAS had its maiden voyage earlier in the week. Boeing’s Phantom Ray will have a 1500 mile range, will be able to fly up to mach 0.85 and will serve as a hunter/killer, a reconnaissance platform, and/or an electronic warfare sentinel. I envision that for many near-future battles, UCAS hardware like the Phantom Ray will become the military’s tip of the spear (a role currently served by cruise missiles).

Stealthy and quick, the looks of the Phantom Ray alone will strike fear into the hearts of any enemy on the wrong side of America’s wrath. I’ve said it before, I would not want to go up against the US anytime soon.

Review: Day by Day Armageddon, Beyond Exile (Book 2) by J. L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon, Beyond Exile (Book 2)The first book in this series is another book I finished just before I returned back to the helm of GC. And the first novel had me riveted. I am a big zombie fan and I was struck by the diary style telling of the death of the world. Beyond Exile, Book 2 continues the story of our daring and ever lucky protag in a world being dominated by a zombie outbreak. “Ever lucky?” you say…

Yes. As much as I liked the first entry, the second was not as good. In the first, the escape scenes were real and daring. Believable. In this edition…Well let just say Al Qaeda. Really?

I made it about halfway through the book before I turned on the fast forward. This was partially due to the cross-country dodge and evade scenes which dominate the 2nd half of the book. I could only take so much of the close calls and the hours long watch and wait scenarios whilst the protag looked for a safe place to sleep.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If this were to happen for real, then life would probably line up with this book at 95%, minus the “ever luckiness”. Each day would be a struggle between staying quiet to avoid the zombie love and finding food, water, and resources to stay alive. For a book, it just got sort of boring.

If Mr. Bourne writes a 3rd book to complete the trilogy (which the ending leads me to believe), then I’ll definitely be reading it. I’d love to see how the story wraps up.

And let me say this too, for a web serial that turned into a novel and possibly a trilogy, I wish Bourne all the best. It’s stuff like this that will break writers out from under the publishing worlds discriminating embrace. Be sure to visit his website: http://www.tacticalunderground.us/.

And one final thing. The protag wondered about the fate of the crew on the space station at the start of the outbreak. I wondered too…

http://ficly.com/stories/24993