Review: Quantum Leap (8/10 stars)

Sam Becket is working on a DoD funded project to time travel. If it worked it would send him back in time to inhabit the body of anyone, so long as it was within his own lifetime (so no going back before he was born). The project was being shut down, so he took a chance and used it on himself. It worked, everything but the part about being able to get him back when they wanted to. The show is about him leaping around time, inhabiting the bodies of various people from the 50’s to the late seventies. They can talk to him through Al, a hologram of his friend in the future that only he could see. Each leap he had to fix something, then he would leap out (almost all the episodes are one leap).

The show is a good example of using the vehicle of science fiction to tell very human stories. The things he fixed were often about changing people, or having someone not make a mistake that hurt them or others. For example in one he was sent back as a rich man’s servant. The rich guy was foreclosing on a mission around Christmas time. His job was not the save the mission, his job was the get the rich guy to WANT to save it, to see that money was not everything. He was there to save the mans soul. What he was sent to do were often turning points of people’s lives, trying to convince people to do right, but not forcing them to.
It was thoughtful and insightful about things in ways that modern
Hollywood isn’t anymore.


Review: The Dark Forest (4/5 stars)

I finally got around to reading The Dark Forest, the sequel to The Three Body Problem.

Before I go on I will say that I am going to be spoiling the hell out of The Three Body Problem and will be give some light spoilers of The Dark Forest (only the very start of the book though).

The Three Body Problem was set in the current day, or at most in a few years in the future. It very much resembles exploration sci-fi, or a good mystery. You get hints about what is going on, and the truth is revealed only slowly.

The Dark Forest is different, it is set first in the near future, then a little bit in the future then centuries from now. We see the results, both social and technological, of what happened at the end of the last book.

I feel the best science fiction is defined by the problems it presents. In The Dark Forest we have a society that has almost all of its scientific progress blocked, we can make things bigger and more efficient but can’t make any real basic advances thanks to the sophons. We know that an alien invasion is about four hundred years away, they have a fleet of a thousand ships and are much more advanced then we are or can become.

The central problem is that again thanks to the sophons we can’t have any secrecy, they can literaly see anywhere and can decode anything we can encrypt. Our only advantage is that we can use deception, they can’t (they read each other minds, so keeping secrets is just not in their nature). But how to use that advantage? The U.N.’s answer is the wallfacer project.

The wallfacer project uses the one place we CAN still keep secrets, the human mind. They give four people almost unlimited power and authority, and immunity to all laws. They are then asked to come up with a way to win the war, the only restriction that they can’t tell anyone.

I won’t go into more detail, you really should read it yourself, but I will say that Cixin very much does not neglect the social aspect. What kids of stresses we would be put under, what that would do to us as a people ect.

In some ways it resembles older scifi that explores consequences more and uses action less.

On Goodreads

Review: Justice league (9/10 stars)

To be clear I did not have high expectations for Justice League. I was thinking it was going to be Batman V Superman but with more characters and plot turns. So worth watching for the action, but little else.

But boy was I wrong, it was very good, surprisingly so.

Going through the list of things I though would tank it but it did well instead:

First they had to introduce three new characters, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg. I though this would drag things down or the characters would end up flat because they could not afford enough time to flesh them out.

Neither happened, little time was spent on them but it was time well spent. They showed the characters, they did not just tell us about them. We did not get much backstory but we did get to know them as characters. The actors of all three characters deserved all the money they got and then some.

Second I thought it would have a consistent joyless tone through the whole movie. While the start was kind of joyless, it was not near as bad as Batman V Superman. And unlike in Batman V Superman the tone at the start helps the movie. Its a movie about making things better, so starting joyless works (like horror movies starting happy). Things get better as the movie progresses and there are even jokes (good ones even).

The third was that the plot would be too complex and would twist too many times (looking at you spiderman 3), and they would leave you in the dust trying to deal with that AND all the new characters.

That did not happen partly because they knew their limits and kept the plot simple but workable. The bad guy was not complex, as he is not the point of the movie, he starts the ball rolling but he is not the star.

While simple the stakes are shown to be very high, and the bad guys power is never in doubt. While I do hope for a more complex one in the next movie, in this one the focus had to be on the league.

One final note is I really like where they are taking Batman. He is old and he shows it, they did not have him take on things that a normal guys should not be able to. The movie as a whole can be seen as him trying to hope, trying to be more like superman. He fails sometimes but he tries, again and again. THAT is a batman I want to see on the big screen.


Review: Odyssey 5 (8/10 stars)

Odyssey Five is a sadly short lived series (just one season). It starts on the space shuttle, then suddenly the earth is destroyed (sort of implodes). Just when they are running out of air a large aliens ship appears.

The alien tells them that they are far from the first that had their planet imploded, he has spent centuries going from one system to another. He detects radio waves, then by the time he gets there the planet is gone. This included his home.

However there is hope, he can send their minds back, five years back in time. He knows nothing about what is causing it (and one of the five people still alive is dying so time is short)

He sends their minds five years back in time, with little more then the bare knowledge of what will happen.

While it was rough in spots, the show had interesting plot lines, and interesting characters. There very much is a fish out of water element. Three astronauts, a science writer, and a reporter are not the group you would pick to investigate aliens destroying the earth. That is not the say they are not capable, they are, but they very have to make it up as they go.

Its very good, if you like sci-fi you will like this.