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22 February 2013 @ 06:56 am
Friday Fun Stuff  
(Wow, been awhile since the last time i did this.)

Today turns out to be the 20th anniversary of the Babylon 5 pilot episode. Um, wow.

io9 has an interesting retrospective, mainly about how the show had to be adapted during production to deal with real life hurdles.

Also, let's push some books!

James Alan Gardner's books are now available as ebooks! They're $5 each and the only downside is that they seem to have lost the right to the original awesome cover art. I'm sure i've pushed his books before, but it's probably been awhile. They're wonderful darkly humorous SF book.

The first one, "Expendable", is about a member of a corp of professional Redshirts. The overarching "theme" of the books however is generally the "League of Peoples", a group of omnipotent aliens that instituted a galactic wide quarantine policy. If you kill a sentient being you are designated as non-sentient and instantaneously killed if you ever enter interstellar space again. This functions a lot like Asimov's three laws of robotics. It's sometimes an obstacle (how do we overcome the bad guys without risking becoming non-sentient ourselves?) and sometimes a mystery (how are the bad guys getting around the rules?)

Martha Wells' "The Siren Depths" just came out on Audible, so it's worth mentioning again. I haven't had the chance to listen to this one yet, but i can wholeheartedly recommend the first two in the series, "The Cloud Roads" and "The Serpent Sea". The simplest way to describe these books is that they're about weredragons. However it's far less cliche than that description sounds. She's created an entirely alien fantasy world with a lot of strange and interesting races. The Raksura are definitely shapeshifters, but "dragon" is just the least-bad comparison i can think of. Here's some fan art form her site. In any case though the world and the books are awesome. Also, the protagonist is a bit of a sub :)

And additionally, a lot of her early books have been getting re-released as ebooks recently too, mostly for just $3 each. Here's her catalog on B&N though they're available all the usual other places as well. A lot of those earlier books are fantasy steampunk from before steampunk became quite so much of a thing.

And of course i'm still recommending Ernest Cline's "Ready Player One". It's set in the 2040s after the reclusive billionaire owner of the world spanning VR game "OASIS" dies and leaves his fortune (and control of the company) to whoever can find the "easter egg" he hid in the game. Since he was a geek who grew up in the 80s and was obsessed with the pop culture of his childhood the secrets to finding the egg are all based on that pop culture. It's a brilliant setup to allow a love letter to the 80s without making all the references seem incredibly forced. And even aside from the awesomeness of the references it's a very good story in its own right.

And finally, just to finish this off with something a bit less bookish (but no less geeky) here's yet another Portal fan music video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZXonGk7WrA
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