I just finished the novel A Quantum Murder by sci-fi writer Peter F. Hamilton. It's the second in a trilogy featuring psychic (hang on, it's not as trite as it sounds) Greg Mandel. He's an ex-soldier that had been part of a program to give psi-powers to military personnel. It didn't give them the superheroes they'd envisioned, and Greg basically got a mental lie-detector along with a few other tricks that he could call upon with a lot of effort. Anyway, the stories all take place in a future where global warming has altered the world, and Britain has had its landscape and weather re-written. All isn't lost, as megacorporations run above-board and under the table operations to increase their profits and find new technologies to exploit. In the first story, one of them hires Greg to find out who's trying to destroy them, and the second novel is a bit more of an old-fashioned murder with a lot of sci(psi?)-fi elements centered around the victim's theoretical physics work. The setting is done pretty well, though it'd probably mean more to me were I more familiar with the places that were flooded or nigh-uninhabitable. There's also a gang war of sorts going on between a group that was the rebel underground (which Greg worked with) against a previous tyrannical government and a group that was said government's enforcers. There's also the cyberpunky tech of implanted data nodes, a guy who's hooked up to the 'net to the point where he's almost a brain in a jar, and a man who pretty much is a brain in a jar (minus the actual brain).
Anyway, the second novel reads as well as the first, with one exception: The murderer's method is presented on a silver platter before I was halfway done with the book. The previous novel kept me guessing for the most part about what was actually going on, mostly because the author hadn't given away the store. It could also have been my unfamiliarity with the world and not noticing something key amongst all the descriptions of what life in this Weyland-Yutani-ish future was like. Without giving away the actual plot, it was as if someone was found phased halfway through a wall, and some scientist gets arrested for killing him. Next, the detective happens to visit another scientist who shows off this thing he's invented called a "matter transporter" and mentions that while he has beamed things into walls, he tries not to do that sort of thing. At least the author kept the motive more under wraps until the end. I still want to pick up the third book, mostly just to see what becomes of the now-familiar core cast.
And now... music. Or mashups. I'm not curmudgeonly enough to claim that no good pop music is made anymore, but there are more than a few Top 40 songs I don't find as appealing without them being combined with an older, more familiar (dare I say "catchier?") tune. Anyway, via MeFi, I was directed to Mad Mix Mustang (whose mashups all have mp3 downloads) for a remix of Fat Bottomed Girls and Come Together. It was okay, but the ones I found intriguing were more like cartoons for your ears, or at least, clever manipulations of music. On the MMM page, I found Super Jumper smile-worthy, and was impressed with the work on Take It Easy On Me. And from that page I came across another Queen track that was kind of neat to hear called Strung Out On Killer Queen, where Freddie Mercury croons over more acoustic instruments than normal.
There's a horror film making the rounds now called The Devil Inside. I haven't seen it yet, and I might take it in at some point. I generally get that kind of stuff from the TV show Supernatural, and I still think Exorcist III is a wonderfully chilling and underrated example of how to do horror without relying on a lot of complicated and overly graphic visuals every five seconds. Anyway, back to the The Devil Inside: MovieWeb interviewed the Reverend Bob Larson, a man claiming to be the world's leading exorcist, to see what he thought of the latest possession film. Bob says, in his professional opinion, the late actor Heath Ledger was possessed during The Dark Knight. When I saw Bob's photo, I thought I saw something familiar, and eventually found where I'd seen that odd-looking cross before. It was in an article that looked like a bad setup for a series of tween-oriented paranormal romance novels. Conveniently, Bob can approve you as an Bob-ficial exorcist for about 200 bucks a year, and you can take a test for about 10 dollars to see if you've got something as bad as a Jersey Shore repeat lurking inside of you. I don't know what the fines are like for exorcising without a license, but I figure the test would have results similar to ones I'd get if I asked a used car dealer if my Civic was in need of replacement. :)
Sticking with the theme, Supernatural snuck back onto TV after leaving on a pretty down note for Bobby. I expect we'll see him again in one form or another, maybe even alive. I almost find this forgivable, even to the extremes this show takes the reality of death, as some people do stay dead, and the heavies all have the mojo to bring people back (usually as bait or a bargaining chip). Anyway, this episode had a little groundwork on the Leviathan problem along with a well-worn concept of the brothers seeing their pasts in the lives of other hunters. There was even a teenager that an interesting character instead of a handy victim for the villains. While not epic, it was a good start to the year.
And finally, some interesting courtroom maneuvers from a video game company. EA Games is citing the first amendment as why it can use trademarked military vehicles in its games. Courts have ruled that video games get the same freedoms as movies and books to use real-world stuff in them, so they don't have to literally re-invent cars, buildings, etc. for general use. The bit about them getting to use likenesses of sports players is getting closer to a kind of gray area, as I'm guessing that gets to whatever area public figures like politicians are in when it comes to likenesses. Maybe when the day comes that video games use Google Maps' data base for racing, flight, and other games, we'll all get a little royalty check from someone any time someone comes within a payout range of our homes in their race car, stealth fighter, or mech. :)
Now that I've completely confused everyone (including myself; it's been a long day), here's some more coherent, yet perhaps still nonsensical, things:
- The robot apocalypse may be fueled by microbial power cells, but this is only for space-borne robots, so they'll have to mutate or be altered by the V'Ger aliens before they return and become a problem.
- Skyrim appears on the horizon again with a very macho mod (wait for the monster to show up) and another Fus Ro Dah video that uses a bit of iconic internet footage as its visuals.
- They say it's for cars, but I think it could be used to preserve any collection of valuables you might have without having to organize the pesky stuff.
- All That Matters is a puzzle game where you use the abilities of a dysfunctional family of spheres to solve puzzles and maybe find reconciliation?
- Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not something short and stout! I presume the Spock version only dispenses green tea?
- Often it's megacorporations with marketing departments specializing in consumer psyops that figure out how to suck up our money. Other times, it's just genius-level people in food service.
- The BBC's lawyers do not approve of anyone using their 3D printer to make TARDIS cookies, and they will send
- Game masters who are running any kind of zombie apocalypse RPG could spice things up by figuring the stats and weapon proficiencies for the Slingshot Zombiehammer. Yeah, it's from that crazy-awesome German guy.
- Sometimes you need a bracelet to remove another. Here's one with a built-in handcuff key.
- Electroshock is a French computer animated look at superheroes and the nerds who want to be them.
- In case you were looking to expand your Star Wars collection with the upcoming 3D re-release of Episode I, you can get tie-in pens in boxes of fairly healthy cereal. Back in the old days, you only got stuff like that in boxes with nuggets of fused sugar and grain dust with marshmallow-like rocks for color.
- Rifftrax has released a sampler of their take on Captain America
- Let's start the week and end the linkdump in heroic fashion with Square Hero: Origins. Become a Super-square-man via a chemical accident, learn how to use your powers, and save the day!