Book Review: Martian by Weir (4 stars)

My uncle posted a review of a recently released hard science fiction novel as his second blog post on his new blog. I supplied some technical assistance, but the content and publication are all his. Stop by and wish him well in his new electronic frontier adventure.

Movie Review: Destination Moon (1950)

Destination Moon (1950)

3 out of 5 stars

Hmmm … quite the blast from the past.  I watched Destination Moon via Netflix DVD while visiting my daughter last weekend.  I placed this movie in my queue based on a recent post (one of his last) by John Scalzi over at his blog, wherein he mentioned nine science fiction films often overlooked or underappreciated

Even with the help of legendary science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein (both on the script and as a technical adviser), Destination Moon just doesn’t hold up well when viewed through the lens of the space age.  Yes, they got some things right and tried to demonstrate weightlessness, pricinciples of inertia and some of the obstacles needed to overcome and survive space travel.  For a hard scifi flick from the mid-20th century, I give the film an A for effort. 

I did not care for the ending though.  If you’re going to go to all the trouble to get to the moon, and almost not make it back due to poor planning (i.e. too much weight to return with the fuel alotted, no slack planned for when they had trouble landing and used extra fuel).   The only real drama from the entire movie boiled down to who might have to stay behind and die on the moon.  The characters finally achieve their weight goal with just seconds to spare and successfully take off from the moon. 

And that’s it.  The movie ends there.  We have no idea if they made it back to Earth or if they splashed down safely in the ocean (another idea they got ‘right’ as proven later by NASA and the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs). 

I found it interesting to compare and contrast with science facts from 1950 and what I now know in 2012, I don’t know that I’d consider this a ‘must see’ science fiction film.  Maybe at the time (in the early 50s), but not now.

Book Review: Dragon’s Egg by Forward

Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

4 out of 5 stars

I admit to a science fiction reader shortcoming: I love to watch science fiction, but usually don’t care to read it, especially the sub-genre of ‘hard science fiction.’

And to be completely honest, I thought I gave myself a migraine reading the first pages of Dragon’s Egg (an astrophysics crash course in neutron stars). Once past the cold hard super-heavy facts, I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the cheela life-form and the brief interaction the human scientists experienced.

I completely sympathized with the crew of the Dragon Slayer not wanting to blink, let alone sleep, as they watched the astonishing development of cheela society.  In just a few hours, the cheela civilization went from ‘savages, stagnating in an illiterate haze’ to outpacing human development by ‘many thousands of years.’ Relatively speaking, of course.

I didn’t connect to any one particular cheela, since their lifespans were so short in human terms, nor with any of the scientists, who got the short-end of the stick when it came to their story-line. But my eyes teared up reading a farewell delivered by a cheela robot to the human scientists, a fitting benediction to a benevolent mutually beneficial first contact interaction.

Recommended for all fans of science fiction, first contact stories and hard sci-fi novels.

The reason I read this book?  It won the poll for the March 2011 Beyond Reality science fiction selection.