ebook edition of my science fiction novel Cluster, leading
off a five novel series, will be downpriced to 99 cents in the USA
on Mayhem 3, 2018. In this setting the centers of galactic empires
are highly civilized, while the fringes are less so, there being a
certain cultural drag because of the delays of space travel. So
there can be super science, or medieval culture, or stone age,
depending on how far out a world is. The protagonist is Flint of
Outworld, who chips fine spear points for a living but is actually
near genius intellect as well as having the most powerful aura
known, which enables him to travel instantly to other bodies. When
he gets hauled to the central world of Earth, mischief ensues; a
smart barbarian can really mess up the plans of dull civilized folk.
If you suppose that all I ever wrote is funny fantasy, try this for
watched Miracle Mile. What would you do if you had only one
hour to live? Harry meets a nice girl, Julie. They make a date for
that night, but he oversleeps by three and a half hours. Hoping he
can catch her anyway, he calls her number and leaves a message. Then
he receives a misdialed call, and learns that Los Angeles will be
destroyed by nuclear missiles in an hour. Others don't believe him,
at first, but then they do, and start going crazy. Got to get out of
town fast! So he looks for her, to spend his last moments with her.
He hijacks a car and winds up setting fire to a gasoline station.
But he does finally locate her—and she's zonked out on a
tranquilizer. He rouses her and tries to catch a helicopter out, but
everything goes wrong. Julie is understandably dubious. The whole
city seems to be going crazy, and destruction and death are
spreading. Who needs nukes, with devastation like this? They finally
do catch the helicopter—and the missiles arrive. It was not a
false alarm. But at least they die together, in love, which was the
point. Not my favorite ending.
watched 1984, because it was a bonus movie on he same disc as
Miracle Mile. I read the book when it came out, circa 1950. I
understand George Orwell wrote it in 1948, so he reversed the digits
for the title, then impossibly far in the future. That date has
passed, but the story remains prophetic, though perhaps no more so
than his Animal Farm. Much of the ugly future it predicted is
indeed coming to pass. Consider America today, where special
interests rule an ignorant public, and truth has little if any
meaning, being dismissed as “fake news.” The movie starts
with a propaganda film whipping up that ignorant public to support
the condition of perpetual war. But it's not just films; wall sized
TV monitors watch individuals. Regimentation is complete. It is like
one vast prison, and those who annoy the State are hanged or shot
after being required to give public confessions for their crimes. The
protagonist, Winston, meets an attractive young woman, Julia, who
soon seduces him. They have an affair, renting a room for it. Full
frontal female nudity, rear male nudity. Their liaison is illicit, of
course. They read subversive literature. They fall in love. And they
are caught, beaten up, separated. The landlord is a secret agent.
Winston is tortured to “cure” him of his mental
derangement in opposing the will of the State. Reality is whatever
they say it is. But it continues, until rats are brought to eat his
face, to make him lose his love for Julia. They probably torture her
similarly. Then he meets Julia again, and each confesses how they
betrayed the other. Their love has been tortured out of them. This is
one grim story, true to the novel in that respect. This is how a
totalitarian state enforces compliance to its will. I doubt I ever
watch it again.
watched The Hunger Games Catching Fire. I had though the prior
one I got, Mockingjay Part 1 was the first in the series.
Apparently not. This one follows that one, I think. Katniss Everdeen
has to convince the world that she is madly in love with Peeta. So
they agree to marry; how's that for a lasting romance? But the powers
that be conclude that she needs to die. In the right way, showing she
is one of the elite, rather than one of the people. The headlines
will feature their love and marriage, but there will also be
beatings, destruction, and killing. The people will get the message.
This year he Hunger Games will feature all champions, 24 winners of
prior games, called Tributes. No pushovers. They can't do it all
themselves; they will need friends. So they set about quietly making
friends of other Tributes. Other Tributes are not pleased about
having to compete again; it wasn't supposed to be that way. And the
Game begins with the competitors on pedestals in the river. They must
start killing each other immediately, and do. Katniss' allies help
her and form a small group against the others. They need potable
water, and get some from a tree. Peeta gets smashed by an invisible
force field and almost dies. The force field covers a fair area,
barring them. They take turns keeping watch at night. A poison fog
comes and they must flee. They manage to wash it off with marsh
water. Then baboons attack. Three of them flee to a river. They find
more allies. They figure out that the arena is laid out like a clock,
with different hazards each hour. Birds attack. All the action is
being watched close-up by the proprietors who want Katniss dead, and
they sometimes interfere. The group hatches a plan to wire a tower to
a pond so that when the regular lightning strikes, it will
electrocute those in the water: their enemies. Then Katniss uses it
to take out the force field dome instead, but gets jolted herself.
She gets rescued, unconscious, by a hovercraft run by folk who need
her to be the Mockingjay for the revolution. So I gather that the
Mockingjay set follows the others. Overall this is a hard-hitting
adventure, and Katniss is human rather than a superwoman, which is
watched Mockingjay Part 2. Peeta has been conditioned to hate
Katniss. The treachery and violence of the war continue. President
Snow, ruler of Panem, orchestrates the deadly campaign to kill
Katniss and wipe out the revolution. He controls the universal video
broadcasts that all citizens must watch. The group walks into a trap
and barely escapes, albeit with losses. They sneak into the city via
the sewer tunnels, and encounter the mutts, ferocious pseudo-humans
bent on killing. Snow issues a call for all citizens, including
children, to come to his residence for safety and sustenance.
Naturally it is a lie. They are gunned down and bombed, the carnage
blamed on the rebels. Then Katniss meets Snow, and he says the woman
Coin is the real conniver, playing the rest of them for fools. Now
she is assuming the Presidency. She proposes a symbolic final Hunger
Game to conclude it. Given the chance to publicly kill Snow, instead
Katniss looses her arrow through Coin. Now it is over. Peeta
continues to recover. Katniss marries him and they have a child.
watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This is evidently a
sequel to one I reviewed a decade ago. It's a wild parody of hi-tech
action-adventure movies, starting with a phenomenal fight in a
speeding car. I love it already. The Golden Circle is a drug cartel
run by Miss Poppy, a sweet looking, sweet talking murderess who has a
prospective recruit popped headfirst into a mincer that turns him
literally into hamburger. She has things like robot dogs to guard
her. A formidable enemy. The Kingsman hierarchy is destroyed by
homing missiles, leaving only Eggsy and Merlin to carry on. They are
assisted by the Statesman whiskey company, a unit of Kingsman. Clara,
a lovely Golden Circle agent, tries to seduce Eggsy, but he is
cautious. Meanwhile he needs to restore the lost memory of his mentor
Galahad. He finally succeeds and the team is gaining strength. But
Galahad now has random memories of his lepidopterist phase, and sees
butterflies. The Golden Circle lets loose a deadly plague that only
it has the antidote to, so the welfare of the world is at stake.
Eggsy's girlfriend is one victim, which makes it personal. Phenomenal
fight against the robot dogs and the last enemy agent, get the
release code, and save the world. And Eggsy marries his recovered
girlfriend. This may be the end of the beginning.
watched Dunkirk. Remember, at the outset of World War Two, the
invading Germans drove the French and British forces to the sea,
where they would be exterminated if they didn't manage to escape.
400,000 men trapped; it was a crisis. Soldiers line up on the beach
for the ship to take them out, and the Germans bomb the beach. Where
are the British planes, the RAF? There aren't enough ships to take
them all off. Volunteers come in smaller boats to take as many as
they can. Those on the ships aren't yet safe; they could be sunk.
This is not a plotted story so much as a documentary sampling aspects
of the evacuation. Oil spills into the water, and when a plane is
shot down it sets fire ti it. Hell for the men in the water. We
follow one boat as it rescues some from the water, a downed airman
and others on the beach. We follow one British airman as he
intercepts strafing German planes and shoots at least one down.
Everyone is in it together, knowing that the worst may be yet to
watched Limitless. Eddie is a burned out writer, about to
commit suicide. His ex brother in law, Vern, gives him a pill his
company is developing, AZT, and it abruptly magnifies his intellect.
He resumes writing and it's great. But now he has to be Vern's errand
boy, to get more pills. Then Vern is murdered. Eddie finds the pills.
They make him a genius, organized and fearless. He completes his
novel and the editor loves it. He plays the stock market and makes
millions. He gets his girlfriend back. Then the drug's side effects
manifest. 18 hours of his life are lost in confusion. Uh-oh. He
checks Vern's list of clients, hoping some know about AZT, and learns
that some are dead and others sick. Then, in trouble, he goes to
girlfriend's office, tells her the whole story, and she fetches the
pills for him. But the bad guy gets a pill, loves it, and wants them
all. He chases her and will kill her. So she takes a pill, and soon
knows how to handle him. She turns on him and knocks him out. But
word is spreading, and Eddie is not safe anywhere. He is about to
commit suicide, but fights on, and wins through in an ugly fight.
Eddie goes on to become a senator, in complete control of his
situation, manufacturing his own variant of the pill, which is safer.
This scenario is really not to be believed, but it is fun to dream
watched Cruel Intentions. Step-siblings Sebastian and
Kathryn—their parents married—connive endlessly at
seduction. They make a bet: if he can't seduce the new headmaster's
virgin daughter Annette, Kathryn gets his neat car. If he succeeds,
he wins full sex with Kathryn, the one person he can't otherwise
have. She flirts and teases him unmercifully. It's a real challenge,
because Annette has been warned against him and knows his nature. She
knows what he's after: her virginity. But Sebastian and Kathryn are
expert connivers, cleverly using friends, parents, any anyone else to
achieve their ends. Until there is a complication: on the verge of
seducing Annette, Sebastian backs off. He is falling in love with
her. Kathryn is disgusted. She talks him into dumping Annette,
breaking her heart. But it breaks his heart too. They reconcile too
late; he is killed in a traffic accident. It's really Kathryn's
fault. But Annette gets back at her by publishing his private journal
that he lent her, that tells everything, totally shaming Kathryn.
watched Cruel Intentions 2. Sebastian is a mischievous lad,
doing things like getting a school administrator's picture naked in
the school yearbook. But his mother has mental problems, and he is
sent to live with his exorbitantly rich father. His new stepsister is
Kathryn, and she lets him know that the outset that she is not about
to take any shit at all from him. There's the challenge. Meanwhile he
is interested in the headmaster's daughter Danielle, a nice girl
Kathryn is out to get. So it is war. Kathryn tries to seduce
Sebastian, fails, so calls Danielle, who turns out to be another like
Kathryn. They invite Sebastian to be a threesome with them.
Believable? No, but endlessly sexy. Same characters as before,
similar situation, but different story.
watched Cruel Intentions 3. Patrick is a transfer student. He
has a cough and seems awkward. Cassidy is a “black widow,”
dangerous. She makes a bet with Christopher about seducing him within
two days. She succeeds, then learns it was a different bet the boys
made. Patrick was faking being a sick nerd. Then they get together
with Jason to see who can seduce which other girl first. Patrick goes
after Alison. Jason goes after Sheila. He seduces her while she is on
the phone with her boyfriend Michael. Patrick blackmails Alison into
letting him ravish her. It's one sexual episode after another.
Finally Jason and Patrick do the final competition: for Cassie. And
betraying each other. These folk are sick.
watched the first episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation Season 4,
“The Best of Both Worlds Part II.” In Part 1 the Borg
abducted Captain Picard, and now seem to have taken over his mind.
The Borg are headed for Earth, and the Federation forces are
mobilizing to take them on. It is a crisis. Guinan (Whoopee) tells
Riker that since the Borg know everything Picard knows, the only way
to defeat them is to set Picard aside and proceed independently. The
Enterprise splits into its two main sections while firing on the Borg
cube and a shuttle takes Worf and Data into space; they then beam
from the shuttle to the cube, and capture Picard, bringing him back
to the Enterprise. But he remains the Borg's creature. They must
separate him from the Borg, to ascertain what he knows about the
Borg, without killing him. Data tries to get to the machine, via the
Picard access, and in effect puts the Borg to sleep, and their cube
explodes, ending the crisis. Picard is back, with the knowledge of
the Borg. This is one hard hitting episode.
read The Cannae Sutra, or the Scots “Joy of Sex,”
humor. Maybe it tries too hard, as I found it only mildly funny.
Theoretically the Scots don't readily admit to ever having sex, and
the text and cute illustrations play on this. In the section on
courting traditions, “To find out more about your future
partner: slice the peel off an apple, all in one go. Wait till
midnight, then whirl it round your head. As the clock strikes twelve,
chuck the peel over your left shoulder. The shape it lands in will
form the first letter of the name of the one you will marry. It will
be someone whose name begins with S.” Much banter about the
kilt men wear, and what's under it. Cartoon hows a mini submarine
surveying Loch Ness. “I never thought this was a good idea!”
Because the Loch Ness Monster is amorously clasping the submarine.
And words of wisdom in the native dialect: “Thrappled crawf
hath muckle snit.” Now you know.
TNG S4 #2 “Family” The Enterprise is undergoing extensive
repairs following the Borg incident, and Captain Picard is in
recovery. Worf's human family is visiting, to his discomfort. Picard
visits his family on Earth, also to his discomfort. Wesley Crusher
gets a recording his late father made for him. Picard fights with his
brother, and makes up; it is cathartic. Wesley meets the holo of his
father, not much older than Wesley is now, wishing him the best. As
the title says, it is family time, not always comfortable, but
TNG S4 #3 “Brothers” A boy is ill, and being taken to a
medical facility. Data takes over the ship, and directs it to an
unknown destination. Then beams himself to a planet, where he meets
Dr. Soong, who constructed him. He made Data imperfect, so made Lore,
another robot. He gives Data emotions—only it turns out to be
Lore, emulating Data. Lore kills Soong. Data returns to the
Enterprize. The sick boy reached the facility has is cured. But is
Data the same as he was? We can't be sure.
TNG S4 #4 “Suddenly Human” They go to the aid of a
Talarian training ship, rescuing five boys from dangerous radiation.
One is Jono, who is human. The Talarian captain says Jono is his
adopted son, and he will go to war rather that give him up. Mearwhile
Picard is trying to teach the boy how to be human. It is a challenge.
Jono tries to kill Picard, so that he will be killed for his crime.
Picard realizes that the boy really does want to return to the
Talarians, and returns him to his adoptive father, avoiding a battle
in space. But Picard has now won the boy's respect.
watched the Discover Vesuvius, the volcano on western Italy
tear Naples, of
Pompeii fame. The next eruption could kill more
people that any prior volcano in history. In the past, almost four
thousand years ago, it buried the Naples area under four feet of ash
and pumice, which is gassy magma that will float on water. Today it
could kill three million people. Pyroclastic flow hot enough to melt
gold zoomed outward at over 400 miles per hour. Temperatures reached
900 degrees, incinerating local life. Liquid lava at 2,000F flowed
out. Earthquakes preceded the eruptions, by months or years. There
have been two massive tremors in the vicinity, maybe signaling
another eruption. And it is not the only volcano near population
centers. This is scary.
Saturn: Lord of the Rings. Saturn, 750 times the size of
Earth, would float on water. The rings are composed of millions of
icy fragments, tens of thousands of miles wide, but only 65 feet
thick. Paper thin, in comparison. At least seven rings, each with its
own personality. They are much younger than the planet. The other
giant planets also have rings, but they are feeble compared to
Saturn's. The moos Enceladus, much smaller than Earth's, is ejecting
water hundreds of miles up; that might be a source of matter for a
ring. It also might enable life. We put a station in orbit around
Saturn, and it is providing much new information, but there is much
yet to discover. The fascination remains.
TNG S4 #5 “Remember Me” They pick up Dr. Dalen Quaice to
give him a lift home. Next day he is gone, and there is no record of
him aboard the ship. In fact there is no record of him anywhere.
Beverly had interned with him. Now four members of her staff are not
only gone, there is no record or memory of them in others. There were
a thousand people on board; now the entire ship's complement is 230.
What has happened? There is another odd warp that only she is aware
of—and only 114 aboard. Now Worf is gone without record too.
And her son Wesley. Now there is no crew at all, just Picard and
Beverly. Then just her. But to the others, she is the missing one.
She has created her own reality, and can return to theirs only if she
chooses to. The Traveler, the weird alien who understands this sort
of thing comes to help Wesley recover her. The two of them
concentrate on alternate realities, and Beverly concentrates too. The
Traveler fades in and out as he focuses; then so does Wesley. Beverly
finally leaps into the vortex and returns to them, for a happy
reunion. This was one nervous episode!
TNG S4 #6 “Legacy” They answer a distress call, but
barely arrive in time. The planet, Turkana IV, is where the late
Tasha Yar came from. Ishara Yar, Tsaha's sister, is there. They don't
trust this, as Tasha never mentioned a sister. But there are two
Enterprise crew members captive of the Alliance they need to rescue
if they can. So Ishara goes with Riker and Geordi, and she goes again
with a subsequent away party of Riker. Worf, and Data. They rescue
the crewmen, but Ishara deceived them in that she was trying to help
the Coalition win a battle with the Enterprise's help. They return
her ho her folk, regretting that they were so readily deceived.
TNG S4 #7 “Reunion” A Klingon warship uncloaks, and the
lady ambassador K'Ehleyr beams aboard the Enterprise with a child,
who turns out to be Worf's son he didn't know about. The Klingon
commander K'mpec meets with Picard, asking him to mediate between two
rivals for new leadership, and to find out who poisoned K'mpec.
During the proceedings a bomb explodes; evidence suggests a Romulan
connection, with a Klingon conspirator. One candidate kills K'Ehleyr;
Worf kills the candidate, who was instrumental in framing Worf for
dishonor. But the matter is not yet finished.
TNG S4 #8 “Future Imperfect” They are surveying space
near the Romulan border, and seem to be getting probed from an
uninhabited planet. Riker, Worf, and Geordi beam down, but are
overcome by gas. Riker recovers, but maybe to another reality, where
he is Captain. He wakes 16 years later, having been in a coma. He has
been captain nine years. Picard is now Admiral. Riker is now a
father. His wife Min, for Minuet, died two years ago. But it's all a
charade, he realizes, and he calls their bluff. The Romulans set it
up to get information from him. There is a boy who played his son.
The two of them break out, but this too rings false. The boy is using
generated images to make his own realities, but wanted someone real,
so brought in Riker when he came in range. He's actually a lonely
alien. They are beamed aboard the present day Enterprise.
TNG S4 #9 “Final Mission” Wesley Crusher has been
admitted to the Academy for training, so this may be his final
mission with the Enterprise. Picard and Wesley join Captain Dirgo of
a mining shuttle, which abruptly loses control and has to make an
emergency landing on a barely habitable moon, without water. They
trek across a desert to a mountain where there is a cave. Naturally,
this being science fantasy, the gravity and air on the small lifeless
moon are the same as on Earth. They discover a fountain, but it is
protected by an electronic shield. Picard gets injured and Dirgo gets
killed; Wesley is on his own. He manages to nullify the shield and
fetch water for Picard. They finally get rescued.
TNG S4 #10 “The Loss” Deanna Troi suffers an attack of
something and collapses. Something starts pulling the ship, and it
can't break free. Deanna can no longer sense others with her empathy.
She is devastated. Deanna has to function blind as it were. She
realizes that the two dimensional creatures that are hauling them
along may be acting involuntarily, like a moth toward the flame. They
act on that assumption, and escape. And Deanna gets her empathy back.
read The Girl from Venice, by Martin Cruz Smith. This is
historical fiction set in northern Italy 1945 as World War Two is
ending. The Nazis and Fascists are still in control, but it is clear
for not much longer. They are still killing people, however,
especially Jews, so it is best to stay well clear of them. Cenzo is a
fisherman heading to port with his catch when he spies the body of a
girl floating face up in the water of the lagoon. This is mischief he
doesn't need, but he hauls her aboard, covers her with sailcloth, and
rows on. Only to be intercepted by a German gunboat. They board him,
trash his catch, but don't find the girl. They move on, and he finds
the girl eating his food. It goes on from there. She's Giulia, a
twenty year old Jewish escapee the Nazis are after. In the end she
decides to stay with him, having ascertained that he is a good man,
even though she is educated and he is just a fisherman. Much detail
about the fish, food, politics, and other things of the area, but
hardly the kind of thriller mooted on the jacket. It's a nice kind of
travelogue for the area and time, interesting but not, for my taste,
TNG S4 #11 “Data's Way” Data is” reporting on one
day in his “life.” His friend Transporter Chief O'Brien
is getting married, but the bride decides to break it off. Data tries
to understand. He decides to learn to dance; Beverly Crusher teaches
him. An ambassador is lost in a transporter accident, complicating
negotiations with the Romulan empire. Or is she dead? They conclude
the accident was faked. Indeed it was; she was a Romulan spy.
Meanwhile the bride changes her mind and the wedding proceeds. Data
dances at the wedding. He continues trying to learn to be human.
TNG S4 #12 “The Wounded” Trouble on the Cardassian
border. It seems a Federation ship, the Phoenix, destroyed an unarmed
science station, and is not not responding to Federation
communications. Is its commander out for revenge against the
Cardassian massacre of his family? Picard talks with him, and
concludes that this is the case. But he also concludes that the man
was right; the Cardassians are arming for war. He advises the
Cardassian ambassador that he will be watching. This gives them fair
warning that their plot is known, so they can back off. The peace
will be kept.
watched Return to Sender. Miranda, training to be a nurse,
goes on a blind date. He shows up early and violently rapes her, and
flees, leaving her bruised and in a kind of trance. He was not the
real date. She carries on with her life, but is distracted and short
tempered. Her job applications keep getting returned to sender. She
visits the rapist, William, in prison. She gets to know him. Other
prisoners are bullying him. He gets paroled, and she continues seeing
him. He wants to make up for what he did. He fixes things around her
house. Then she doses him with antifreeze and ties him down, and I
think castrates him and lets him bleed to death. So she's as bad as
he is. I Spit on Your Grave did it better.
TNG S4 #13 “Devil's Due” The
Enterprise receives a transmission from a science station, where
folk think the end of things is coming tomorrow and are going crazy.
Ardra is returning after
years of peace and prosperity, and
will enslave the population. Picard, Data,
Deanna, and Worf beam to the planet and meet Ardra, who demonstrates
magical powers. Picard
believes she is a con artist. The
planet did have a thousand excellent years,
but is she just taking advantage? So they go to arbitration, and Data
is the arbitrator. The stakes are recovery of the world and the ship,
but if they lose, Ardra gets it all plus Picard. But the Enterprise
is able to take over Ardra's orbiting ship and Picard
can now perform
her illusions himself, winning the case.
TNG S4 #14
“Clues” They are investigating an anomaly when a wormhole
opens up and sucks
in the Enterprise. This is of course mischief. They are unconscious
for 30 seconds, according
to Data, but crew
a day. Deanna Troi gets dizzy, goes to her apartment, and screams:
the mirror showed her features
with someone else inside. Worf had a wrist broken and reset without
his knowledge. There is definitely a missing day. An
alien takes over Deanna's mind and she talks to them. They
and learn that the Paxans, an advanced sapient species, require
secrecy. They wipe the crew's short term memories, and swear Data to
eternal secrecy, so that the Paxans will let them go.
TNG S4 #15
“First Contact” Alien
are trying to stabilize a wounded, unconscious human man, uncertain
what to make of him. He looks like Riker. Then Picard and Deanna Troi
beam to the scientist lady Mirasta
believe that they are the center of the universe, and they are on the
verge of warp travel. That's why the Enterprise is making first
contact. The Malcorians, like most Star Trek aliens, are merely human
beings with odd facial characteristics,
even speaking the same language. The Enterprise will depart, on
rescued Riker, taking
only Mirasta along.
TNG S4 #16
“Galaxy's Child” Leah Brahms,
a senior engineer, will visit the Enterprise to meet Geordi and talk
with him about his work. Geordi knows her via a former holographic
interaction. But when she arrives she says he has fouled up her
engine design. He says that things don't always work in the field the
as in the laboratory. Meanwhile they discover an orbiting life form;
it attacks them, they beam it, and it dies. This
time the alien life form truly is alien. Then
another life form appears within
it. It was about to give birth! So they help that process. Then the
new entity thinks the Enterprise
is its mother. They guide it to where it's mother was going and let
it go in the company of its own kind.
TNG S4 #17
“Night Terrors” They
may have found a missing science ship, the Brittain. Its entire crew
of 34 has been shot down by phaser, all except one man, a Betazoid.
The victims killed each other. Why? Meanwhile dissent starts
festering aboard the Enterprise. Whatever operated there is operating
here. Riker discovers a nest of vipers in his bed—which then
aren't there. Beverly sees dead bodies in the morgue sitting up. Worf
tries to commit suicide. They
from dream deprivation. Humans
to survive, or they start losing
memories and hallucinating.
Only Deanna dreams, and they are all nightmares. Then she figures it
out: aliens are trying to communicate telepathically, but the
telepathy has this side effect of suppressing REM dreams. Data takes
over as acting captain, being
the only fully rational person aboard,
while Deanna enters REM sleep and sends a message to the aliens that
enables them to break out of the trap.
TNG S4 #18
“Identity Crisis” Five years ago an Away Team was lost
shuttle craft stolen. Only Geordi and Susanna
leads an Away team to land on the local planet. Susanna starts
suffering extreme sensitivity to light; her skin breaks out in purple
veins. Geordi investigates while he can. Beverly locates a parasite
in Susanna's body
mischief. Geordi, infected, manages to beam off the ship. Susanna,
recovering, says it's not a parasite but the alien's method of
reproduction, transforming the host. Susanna locates him on the
planet and brings him back, and they are able to cure him too.
TNG S4 #19
“The Nth Degree” They
check a telescope array at the edge of Federation space, which
stopped functioning properly two months ago. Geordi and shy
and it flashes, taking down the shuttle's
computer and knocking Reg out. Thereafter
Reg is surprisingly knowledgeable and confident. He has the
insight that enables them to destroy
the alien probe before it damages the ship. But he goes too far,
taking over the ship and sending it into a space vortex. Cytherians
are an alien culture exploring the galaxy by using others, such as
Reg, no harm intended.
TNG S4 #20
“QPID” They will host an archaeology
conference. Picard is preparing his speech. Vash appears,
the woman he met in “Captain's Holiday” in Season Three.
She is attractive trouble. And Q appears, the super-powered mischief
maker, saying he wants to do something
nice for Picard. Uh-oh. Picard and the other officers are suddenly
transported to 12th
century English fantasy, Robin Hood. Vash is Maid Marion, about to be
executed if not rescued. She promptly messes up the story line by
agreeing to marry the Sheriff of Nottingham.
In the end Vash and Q get together, two birds of a feather.
TNG S4 #21
“The Drumhead” In
an exchange program they host a Klingon researcher, J'Dan.
But he is suspected of leaking secrets to the Romulans. He denies it,
but they send him off. The lady Admiral Satie
is brought out of retirement to supervise the investigation. It turns
out that there may
aboard. They suspect crewman
was Romulan. But Picard believes they are hounding an innocent man,
there is no evidence that connects Simon; the explosion was
Drumhead trial may be
immoral and unethical, driven
an outburst by Satie that reveals her as a bigot. This is perhaps my
because of its establishment
of the principles
of basic human decency. The Salem
Witch Trials and the Nazis'
of Jews and Gypsies are
far from the only historical examples
bigotry in action, and we must be constantly on guard against it.
TNG S4 #22
“Half a Life” Deanna's mother Lwaxana in aboard, making
her usual mischief. They are trying to help folk restore their
dying sun to full power. The
first test fails. Lwaxana
latches on to the
whose research is fundamental to the project. But he is going home to
die. He is expected to commit suicide at age 60. They
investigate and discover a variance that may make the key difference.
But he needs more time to finish his work, which he can't if he
suicides. His daughter Dara beams aboard to try to persuade him. She
loves him but wants him to die, because it is their way. So
he returns, and Lwaxana
TNG S4 #23
“The Host” Bevely
has a new boyfriend, Ambassador Odan. But there is something wrong
with him physically. Something in his belly. Meanwhile there is a
crisis as the
and Beta prepare for war. Odan is a Trill, which turn out to be
symbiotic; the “parasite” is his essence. The host dies,
but they transfer the symbiote to Riker, who becomes in effect Odan,
who still loves Beverly. He negotiates
the two factions. But Riker's body is rejecting the symbiote; there
has to be a new host in another day. And the new Trill host is a
woman. Who still loves Beverly, but a romance is no longer feasible.
This is an emotionally
TNG S4 #24
“The Mind's Eye” Geordi spies a Romulan war bird. They
abduct him and prepare him to be their agent of mischief as the
Enterprise handles Klingon negotiations. Some Klingons think the
Federation has been secretly aiding rebels. They have captured some
of the weapons as evidence. They were changed by a non-Federation
technique. Data catches on and prevents Geordi from assassinating a
key figure. Now they are able to ferret out the plot.
TNG S4 #25 “In Theory” The Enterprise
is exploring a dark matter nebula.
is friends with co-worker Jenna, who has trouble with regular
feels he has
her more attention
than her dates do.
She kisses him, which perplexes him. They date, and it is a constant
learning challenge for him. Meanwhile there is some trouble getting
out of the nebula, but they
And Jenna breaks
up with Data, as she needs some human emotion he can't provide.
TNG S4 #26 “Redemption Part 1” Picard
must arbitrate again as Klingon factions oppose each other. Klingon
politics are complicated and deadly. Worf
his brother Kurn want
vindication for his family name. One faction has secret Romulan
support. Worf and
his brother plan to support Gowron in return for clearing their
family name. Two Duran sisters plot for power. Gowron is installed,
but the Duran family plots insurrection. Worf must support Gowron,
and resigns his commission as a Enterprise officer. He departs, and
the Enterprise leaves. But human involvement may yet manifest. We'll
see, in Season 5.
Greatest Books You'll Never Read,
by Bernard Richards. I had thought it might deal with suppression or
mostly turn out to be unfinished or lost manuscripts. It
does serve as a kind of review of the lives and works of many well
known authors, from Chaucer to Stephen King, with interesting tidbits
along the way. What strikes me is the number who suffered depression.
to be seriously depressive to be an effective writer, but it does
seem to help. A number of unfinished books
are because the authors suicided or died early. For example, Sylvia
Plath, who turns out to have been born only a year before I was, but
she killed herself at age 30. I was outraged by what happened to
Dalton Trumbo. He was a highly successful scriptwriter
in Hollywood in the 1940s. Then he wrote in a magazine
article that if he were a Russian (which he wasn't)
he would fear the Americans
even more than the Americans feared the Soviet Union. That was an
opinion, which should have been constitutionally protected; it was
also, in my
opinion, quite true, as America was a stronger power than the USSR.
But this was the time of the McCarthy witch hunts, and he got called
up before the House Committee on Un-American Activities,
which denounced him and put him in prison for eleven months(!) for
that opinion. Thereafter he was blacklisted for several years. Where
the hell was the Constitution, or
alone fair play?
I have remarked before that the Un-American Activities Committee was
itself one of the most un-American things we have seen, and I feel
that the US Army's finest hour was when it finally took down Joe
McCarthy. I am a naturalized citizen; I believe in Constitutional
values. It seems that many born
don't. And Kurt Vonnegut's intriguingly titled unfinished book, If
God Were Alive Today.
it misses the mark on Coleridge's Kubla
which never was a lost manuscript; the author devised a story to
explain why it was incomplete. I go into this more thoroughly in my
collaboration with J R Rain, The
while I found the volume tedious to go through, it does have its
moments. It reminds me of real lost manuscripts it
such as Charles R Delaney's opus, lost by a publisher, and his backup
copy was lost by the storage facility. It might yet turn up. What a
discovery that would be!
read a number of magazines, my main interest being science, but
sometimes other things catch my attention. Such as an Op-Ed opinion
piece in the April/May issue of the humanist magazine FREE INQUIRY,
by T Joshi, titled “The Party of Traitors.” It begins
“The question of the day is: How have we reached the stage
where an entire political party in this country has in effect
descended into treason?”
He is referring to the current incarnation of the GOP. He says the
party has gone out of its way to subvert American law and American
ways that could lead us down the road to autocracy. That is, a form
of government where one person governs with the authority of an
absolute monarch; a dictatorship. He goes on to give examples in the
words of their politicians and the legislation
they pursue despite the opposition of a
of their constituents. It seems that they literally don't care what
the people want, only
their big donors want. It is not news to me; I have noted that
Republicans seem to want to make a feudal state, with a few wealthy
landowners and the rest being
peasants serving them. So what can be done to prevent this? Get out
and vote, while you still can. Another publication, THE HIGHTOWER
LOWDOWN, details how back in the 1930s a group of multimillionaires
plotted to oust Franklin
because he was simply trying
to do too much
good for the common man with things like the New Deal, and taxes on
the wealthy to fund a recovery from recession. They selected a
figurehead to lead the new state. But he turned out to value the
existing order, and the plot founded aborning, and
they did their best to bury the news, as they still had the agenda.
Now the billionaire Koch brothers want to try it again, only they
have been smarter, and have made real progress behind the scenes. In
some quarters supposed news items are actually propaganda pieces
written by the special interests. That
may account for the orientation of the Republican party; it is
quietly governed by the billionaires.
newspaper article may have bearing: it establishes that from
President Nixon on, the Democrats have diminished
the national deficit
while the Republicans have increased it. I think they could go back
farther than that. So
the Democrats are the real fiscal conservatives, while the
Republicans are financially irresponsible. Or as I put it, the GOP is
governed mainly by greed. I am and have always been a registered
independent, watching from the sidelines.
and ends: There is evidence that our solar system got sideswiped by
an alien star about 70,000 years ago, jerking asteroids and planets
about. That may account for some of the odd orbits we are seeing now,
so there is no missing ninth planet. The richest one percent of
American women by income live more than a decade longer than the
poorest one percent. For men, the difference is almost fifteen years.
remember, back in FeBlueberry I fell on my face during an exercise
run, and bashed my rib-cage.
My doctor had an X-ray picture taken, to make sure there wasn't worse
damage. It showed the ribs were healing nicely, but incidentally also
showed a one centimeter spot on my right lung. So he ordered a
cat-scan, and that confirmed the spot, which
I think is called an “incidentaloma,” discovered by
accident when looking for something else.
Now I have seen a lung doctor, who verified
that the spot wasn't there seven years ago. We'll get another picture
in three months, to see if there is any change, and that could lead
to a biopsy. We don't want to fool around with cancer; it killed my
daughter Penny in 2009. With luck, the spot is nothing serious. But
wouldn't it be ironic if I had to fall on my face to discover a tumor
that might otherwise kill me? I have read that there are three kinds
of cancer: the bird, that metastasizes
so rapidly you're doomed before you know it's there; the rabbit, that
can be stopped if caught early, and the turtle, that plods along
never going anywhere, needing no treatment.
So I'm hoping for a turtle.
on how Clearwater city council member Bob Cundiff diverges from his
four colleagues, as well as the scientific community, on one of Tampa
Bay's most sensitive subjects: Fluoridation. He feels the science
behind fluoridation is unsettled. The article says that medical
professionals overwhelmingly agree that community fluoridation is
safe and effective for the prevention of tooth decay, and that it is
one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20the century.
Wow! I take this as another example how the one person can be right,
and the throng wrong. Fluoridation is really one of the ten great
deceptions of the 20th century, and smart folk avoid it because not
only does it not help teeth, children growing up in fluoridated
communities mature physically several months early, and suffer IQ
loss of up to ten percent. So the girls turn buxom as children, and
are relatively stupid. Don't the boys love that! I have researched
this and been over it before, but will gladly rise to the challenge
again if my accuracy is questioned. So challenge me, if you really
think you know better. Go ahead. You have an education coming, if
your mind remains sharp enough after fluoridation to assimilate the
to one of the “little magazines,” THE WASHINGTON
SPECTATOR, for April 1, 2018, some Democratic Party leaders are
signing a pledge to try to remake the country. It calls for
rebuilding America by renewing infrastructure, you know, crumbling
roads and bridges, investing in “green” jobs”,
empowering workers to reduce inequality, working for justice for all,
guaranteeing women's economic equality, enhancing public education
by, among other things, canceling all student debt, bringing Medicare
for all, making corporations pay their fair share, breaking up the
big banks, and rescuing democracy from the special interests. One
survey shows that at present eighty percent of Americans live from
paycheck to paycheck; this might address that. I would love to see it
happen, but fear that it is simply too beneficial to get past the
entrenched forces of autocracy.
review of the book Assume the Worst, by Carl Hiaasen. That is
evidently some book. It is subtitled “The Graduation Speech
You'll Never Hear.” Graduation speakers are supposed to offer
encouragement and inspiration. Well, this book says, that's not what
you need. You need a warning. For example, a typical platitude is to
live each day as if it is your last. If you do that, you won't
accomplish a damn thing. Try to find goodness in everyone? A waste of
time; if it requires the psychological equivalent of a metal detector
to locate somebody's true self, they're not worth that trouble. Don't
be quick to judge other people? If you don't learn how to judge them,
and fast, you'll quickly get screwed. I'm not sure I agree with all
of this, but it is certainly worth pondering.
is the universe the way it is, with its weird assortment of matter
and forces? Some call it the uglyverse, because it doesn't just fit
into a simple, comprehensible, esthetic scheme. What about the
concept of myriad multiverses, with different rules? Where are they
now? A letter in NEW SCIENTIST by Ken Goddard suggests an answer: in
the beginning all the alternate universes came into existence
together, with all the alternatives. The ones that weren't viable
collapsed almost instantly, leaving only one: ours. Or maybe, I am
thinking, parts of several universes got tangled together, like
mismatched socks, and formed a messy knot that didn't clear, like a
clogged drain, and that is what we are stuck with. Welcome to the