[Review] Old Mans War

booksSo a book club in Dublin that I am looking at joining was this month reading The name of the Wind by Patrick Roftuss, and John Scalizi’ Old mans war. Having already read The Name of the wind back in 2011, i really only needed to read this to be ready for the book club.

The book is simply a tale of an old man, who chooses to enlist in the space army to be rejuvenated and get a new lease on life in the colonies after his term of service.

There are some very interesting elements in the book. For example the old people who sign up to join this army have no idea how they will be rejuvenated, however they are perfectly willing to do so, as the chance of dying in the ten years after they could enlist apparently runs in the very high likelihood.

So at first the book is asking, would you jump for a lifeboat, if you didn’t know how it worked?

After it is explained how it is done we get a short training montage, and then off to see the war in action.

I have often heard this work been described as very similar to a Heinlein story been told in a modern way by a modern author. I can defiantly see a lot of elements that would remind me of that. The training montage is similar to a lot of things in Starship Troopers, also our hero is in the Heinlein mould. He is someone who gets things done, thinks about his actions but when the time comes knows which way to jump.

I loved a lot of the technology within the book with things like the Skip Drive FTL technology been very interesting, though the explanation of how the it works gives me a headache. I suspect that in universe it is a concept that really is badly explained by the english language, and would be better if you could get the maths. I won’t try to explain it here, but it is a variant of an FTL transit system I don’t think I have encountered before.

Another interesting idea is the BrainPal. A computer in your head, that can send and receive messages, and will learn to respond to your wants and needs before you can articulate them. I admit that i want one.

The big problem I have with the book, is that there is no real reason to keep how the rejuvenation will be done a secret. At least none that is explained within the book. Also the disparate technology level between Earth and the CDF makes little sense, why keep a major source of what could be a production centre so behind the tech curve that they can’t help, even while you fight what seems like a total war!

The book itself was Hugo nominated in 2006 and the Author won the John W. Campbell award for new writers.

I have gotten the second book in the series, and look forward to reading it.

[Review] Wreck-It-Ralph

So I went to see Wreck-It-Ralph at the weekend. I had heard about this movie back when it was released in the US, but had to wait for an Irish release before I could see it.

It was well worth the wait.

The basic concept of the Movie is very similar to Toy Story, and many other movies with a similar concept, what exactly do computer game characters do when there is no one around to watch them.

The plot is quite simple, about a person seen as been evil by all around him, trying to prove that he can be a good guy.

The simple plot description of course does not even come close to describing the joy that exists in this movie. Sure there the shout out moments when famous game characters make an appearance (Sonic, Street fighter 2 and so on) but these references are more for the adults in the audience than the kids, and so the movie depends more on the original characters that we encounter than any others.

The main character is Wreck-it-Ralph, who was thrown out of his home so an apartment block could be built, and so tries  to destroy that block. After 30 years of the same thing, he gets bored with living in the dump, and wants to prove that he is good enough to live in the apartment building with everyone else.

I don’t want to go to much into this movie, as while i believe you can enjoy it knowing things, there are certain moments of Joy that just had me laughing.

In general i think the best parts of the movie are:

  •  The world building in this was really well done, the world and its history are sometimes built with a deft touch and others just pushed in your face. Both ways work, and make sense for the different elements that are introduced in this way.
  • The characters are well realised and defined. oh and are great fun.
  • The self-awareness of the characters, they know they are in games, and they know what could happen if they stop playing for the people.
  • The “in” jokes. They are there adding an extra layer, but if you miss the joke that’s ok as it is never important to the plot

This film is probably going to remain one of my favourite films for a long time, I have already bought the soundtrack, and have gotten the iOS game for it as well, which is quite addictive.

In the end the message of the film is all about accepting who you are, and finding happiness in the differences between you and other people. Which is, I think, a good message in any movie.

This movie will be on my Hugo nomination Form for best dramatic performance, Long Form.