30 Oct 2008
I reckon there are three types of science fiction story.
type 1: Begins in a normal, recognizable world, which is then affected in some way by some kind of sci-fi lunacy. (eg. Heroes, ET, Anything by John Wyndham.)
type 2: Begins in a strange future, foreign planet or any other kind of unfamiliar territory and then develops into a character based story. (eg. Brave New World, Star Trek, Brazil)
type 3: Anything that doesn't fit into type 1 or 2. (eg...I don't really know, I'm just assuming there are some)
Ok, so that was fairly weak. Science fiction isn't as black and white as that, but lets pretend it is for a bit yeah?
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester would be a type 2. The story is set in a 24th century Earth where many people have telepathic abilities. These people are known as "espers"(Formal) or "peepers" (slang) and are divided into three classes based on proficiency. So, the strange, unfamiliar future has been set up. The character-based storyline comes in the form of a murder mystery. Actually, it's not a mystery at all, we all know who the murderer is (protagonist non-esper Ben Reich), and so does the policeman (antagonist esper Lincoln Powell) The trouble is, police procedure prevents a suspect being sentenced based on telepathic readings alone. The result is Ben Reich's thrilling quest to get away with murder in a world full of intention detecting mind readers, offset by Lincoln Powell's noble mission to gather enough evidence to arrest Reich and have him Demolished (a punishment seemingly worse than death which is not revealed until the end of the story)
Number 14 in the SF masterworks series The Demolished Man was first published in 1953 and was the first ever Hugo award winner. Despite being published in the 50's, there is a real 1980's cyberpunk feel to the novel with its high-tech futuristic setting and interplay between a glamorous high class and an urban underclass. The old fashioned attitude towards the female characters is one of the few things that gives away the 50's publication date.
I enjoyed reading The Demolished Man. The main character is immediately set up to be a arrogant, sexist, unrepentant murderer and yet I found myself rooting for him. The story is compelling with several dramatic twists. There is a pulp literature, trashy style to this novel which contrasted pleasantly with the complex sci-fi setting and resulted in a gratifying read.
27 Oct 2008
Science fiction is currently my favorite book genre. I recently discovered the SF masterworks series. Actually, I noticed years ago that a lot of the sci-fi books I was reading seemed to be part of some kind of series, but I ignored that fact until two weeks ago when I looked it up, printed off the list, and decided my life would not be complete until I had read every one of them.
"Blood Music" by Greg Bear is number 40 on the SF masterworks list (irrelevant, but thought I'd mention it) The story begins with a mad scientist type called Vergil Ulam, who injects himself with his unauthorised biological experiment when he gets sacked from his biotechnologist job. A predictable mad scientist/Jekyll and Hyde/superhero type of storyline ensues. This storyline then changes in the second part to a distopian, virus spreading apocalypse scenario in which Vergil Ulam's experiment has infected the entire population of North America (bar a few baffled survivors). An infected scientist manages to get himself to Europe where he stays in a quarantine lab and experiments on himself. We are now in the midst of an non-human intelligent life storyline. The ending of this book is full of intriguing concepts as well as a fair amount of (for me at least) confusion as to what's really happening. For example, the 'intelligent virus' forms itself into various surreal shapes to form a completely new landscape, but I found myself confused as to why these shapes came about. There seemed to be no logical explanation apart from to set up some crazy surreal imagery.
None of the characters in this story are particularly memorable. But this book isn't about the personal journey of any human characters, It is about the development of an intelligent disease (the humans are more or less cameos). It features loads of classic sci-fi ideas all thrown in together which individually would have been predictable, but together formed an engrossing and thought-provoking read.
10 Oct 2008
7 Oct 2008
This is one frame of a film I made whilst I was at University doing animation. I think it pretty much sums up this weeks topic. It's done with gouache and black fineliner. I did every frame of the film like this, by hand, about two thousand paintings in all. took quite a while!
Here's the full film:
6 Oct 2008
Just made this bag for my sister. It's her 20th birthday at the end of the week.
I say 'Just' as if I just knocked it together in the last half an hour. Actually, I sewed the bag together a few days ago. It's made from some canvas. The strap is made of plaited string. The details are done with acrylic paint. I used stencils to get a good edge. I made the stencils out of sticky back plastic (not selotape, it's the stuff used to cover school-books, comes in a big roll. Dunno the official name)
Here's the back. The paint leaked under the stencil in a few places that's because it was too watery. It looked alright though, sort of like I did it on purpose, so I added some extra paint splats.
(btw 'Hol' is what I call my sister)
Here's the front again with the flap lifted up.
We've got a cooking apple tree in our garden, and it's loaded with apples. there's also a dessert apple tree (not sure which type) in the garden next door which grows over into our garden. So I've made some apple jelly.
The recipe's pretty simple. Just roughly chop up the apples (Don't bother peeling or coring) then boil the chopped apples in a pan of water until they break up into mush.
For the next part, you need to get a bowl, a colander, some gauze or muslin, and some string. Put the colander in the bowl, and line it with a large piece of gauze or muslin. pour, or spoon, the apple mixture into the muslin then gather it up and tie it into a bag with the string. You now need to hang it somewhere, suspended over the collander/bowl. I did this by attaching it to the doorknob of a cupboard which hangs over the work surface. You need to leave this to drip for several hours. Overnight is probably best.
measure the apple juice which has gathered in the bowl. For every pint of liquid, you need to add one pound of sugar. I used Jam sugar because apple doesn't have enough pectin to set by itself. You can use lemon juice or add another fruit such as blackberries or raspberries. Boil the juice and sugar 'til it starts to thicken. You can test to see if its ready by putting a drop of the juice onto a plate which has been kept in the freezer. When its ready, pour it carefully into some jars. (You need to sterilize the jars first in the oven) You can put some wax paper circles on top as I did, or use clingfilm wrapped over the top.
And here's the finished product. Plain apple, Apple and rosemary (added rosemary at the first boiling stage and then stuck a sprig of rosemary in each jar), apple and ginger (added chunks of fresh ginger at the first boiling stage, and also chopped stem ginger into the jar), apple and bramble (added blackberries from the garden at the boiling stage)