Sunday, July 30, 2006

In which David finishes a Space Opera

No, nothing that I wrote - especially not any music. It's about a book - my most recent soporific and a very exciting soporific too.

The Algebraist by one of my very favorite authors Iain Banks. (click the picture for larger size)

Or is he called Iain M. Banks? Yep, he publishes under two names - with the middle M. and without - to denote whether he's writing science fiction or not. Here's his home page. Let him explain it.

A few years ago Leslie brought home one of Banks' science fiction works, Excession, which I devoured. It's about a world where machines are very intelligent and powerful, a common Banksian theme.

Since then I've read every one of his books that I know of (except the newest Dead Air). I have an entire shelf devoted only to his novels. Banks is a versatile and capable author, pretty much unknown in the U.S.

The Algebraist takes place mostly in Ulubis, a distant planetary system, which faces invasion by a horrendously evil villain with a fleet of deadly space ships. Hoping for some inside information that will save them, the inept, bureaucratic rulers of Ulubis send the bookish hero on a quest to find . . . a book (what else).
He goes to a large gas planet (think of Jupiter) which is populated by Dwellers, an ancient species with a billion year life span. Our hero spends most of the story traveling about in a one-person space ship (think of a high tech mobile coffin with mechanical arms). Dwellers don't organize their libraries very well (think of my CD collection) and the critical information has been misplaced.
Yes, that is the exciting premise of The Algebraist.

I couldn't put it down.


von Daniken Chichen Itza stone rocketship (c) 2004 David OckerA picture I took of the Rocket Ship of the Gods at Chichen Itza Mexico.

Van Daniken has a Theme Park (in English via BabelFish or in German)

For more information about the science fiction genre called Space Opera click here for Wikipedia.

A composer named David Bass has written an actual musical "Space Opera" based on the first Star Wars movie, (known as "Episode Four, the New Math.") Click to see the cast in costume. Cute.

L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction author who could have become a God, made the term Space Opera into a religious tenet. Click here.


Short commercials for the Sci-Fi network: a Superhero Grandmother and a balloon dog.
Here is another balloon video (not science fiction but most men will enjoy it.)
Here is a German commercial (not science fiction and most men will be disappointed)
Here is Stunt City 7:45 a.m. (very highly recommended if you like action movies)

A Star Trek parody (in Finnish): Star Wreck, In the Pirkinning (click here) which "... begins with Captain James B. Pirk of the starship Kickstart shipwrecked on the 21st century Earth with his crew ..." (I've only watched the trailer, no time for the full length movie yet.)

A Star Wars Fan Movie, IMPS: The Relentless (click here). Imagine COPS, the television show, on the planet Tatooine following a squad of Imperial Storm Troopers as they work an average day on the job.

truck with Ice-9 sign Vonnegut Cats Cradle (c) 2006 David OckerClick on the Ice-Nine truck (seen in Alhambra CA) for a larger picture. An ice-related Sci-Fi Network commercial.


STAR WARS: The IPO (Imperial Philharmonic Orchestra, Darth Vader music director) in concert.

DAVID'S RECENT SOPORIFICS ("books read before bed")
The Merchant of Prato - (click here or here. )
Umberto Eco - Baudolino (click here)
One Market Under God (click here)
50's Japanese Murder Mystery with electronic music (click here)

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