April 30th, 2014


Kill. Die. Repeat.

Yesterday afternoon I was done with grading. Spending quality time updating my WMU webpages, fielding a few early queries about grades. Then Brown showed up.

When I came home from the hospital, I realized we had a spare garage door remote after Mrs. Dr. Phil had donated the old not-running red 1994 T-10 4WD 4-door Blazer. So I kept it near my living room chair in order to let in the at-home care people. Rather than have UPS dump the package on the front porch, I opened the garage and grabbed a cane and made my way to the back door to see what came. Actually, I was pretty sure I knew what it was.

In the old days of mail order, you either called or wrote to an outfit, which generally gave 4-6 week delivery. You never knew when anything would come. The modern tech world can't move that slow and online retailers have merged online ordering, one- and two-day shipping and email notifications to completely change the game.

Go, go Gadget Amazon!

All You Need Is Kill / Hiroshima Sakurazaka
San Francisco: Haikasoru, (2004) 2009.
(Reissued as Movie Tie-In: Edge Of Tomorrow in 2014)

When Nick Mamatas announced that Haikasoru was coming out with a mass market paperback for this summer's movie Edge Of Tomorrow, I knew two things. It was about time I owned a paperback with action movie icon Tom Cruise on it (grin) and it was definitely about time I read All You Need Is Kill. So I pre-ordered it from Amazon -- they gave it an early May release date. I got it 29 April.

Many of you will have seen the trailers for the movie. Military SF with powered armor fighting suits against an alien invasion. Hero keeps reliving one battle in a grotesque version of Groundhog Day on steroids, until he meets another time looper.

Don't know how the movie will compare, especially with Tom Cruise not exactly being Japanese outside of his stint in The Last Samurai, but the English translation of the Japanese novel under the Haikasoru imprint is superb. Well done, Nick. This is two terrific Japanese SF novels you've put out that I've read now, the other being Toh EnJoe's Self-Reference ENGINE, which just won the Special Citation from the Philip K. Dick Award -- I did a science check on that English translation for Haikasoru. Now I am going to have to buy their Yukikaze series of military SF books, dammit.

One of the Big issues in writing science fiction is how to infodump and establish backstory for a place and time outside our own. I tend to do flashbacks. Sakurazaka manages to cleverly dribble information, often with foreshadowing, in the various iterations of our repeats.

And Japanese recruit Private Keiji Kiriya in his first battle against the Mimics is about as different from American Sergeant Major Rita Vrataski as you can be -- except they share their terrible secret. How they get together and how they fight his first battle is really great stuff. The armor, called Jackets, ends up through several iterations to be well described. The invading aliens are extraordinarily alien. These are not stock humans with latex foam ridges and snarling alien colored faces. We really have nothing in common with them. Scary.

It's a wonder how humanity has survived this long under waves of relentless assault. I recall a time travel story I read long ago where our protagonist ends up on Earth in a far future with vastly advanced technologies, except they have taxed their resources to the limit to produce the last air ships, which don't survive the last battle and our time traveler goes back to his time (sort of) having seen The End. This feels that hopeless.

And yet, it also illustrates the same odd detachment with war that has permeated our post-911 conflicts. Not the rah-rah home front of the Greatest Generation in WW II. Hopeless and ignorance. Coupled with the same jaded view of the brass in charge from the ranks doing the actual fighting and dying. And yet...

From the trailers, I think the movie will be a terrific summer blockbuster, even though the casting is all wrong -- it'll be fine. But before it comes out June 6th (?), if you're a fan of SF/military SF, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of Edge Of Tomorrow/All You Need Is Kill and read the original first.

HIGHLY Recommended

Dr. Phil

Whither, LJ?

The death of LiveJournal has been the subject of discussion for years. The death of blogging by Facebook, Twitter, younameit.com, has been the subject of discussion... for years.

Kids these days, they say, can't write anymore. Long form communication is dead. The Internet is just pictures of cats and What I Ate Today.

Except... some of the most prolific bloggers I know are also prolific on Twitter and/or Facebook and crosspost. These prolific types also are not on, or no longer on LJ -- most use WordPress. Doesn't quite translate to the end of blogging. Being successful, that is.

I have what is to me a large LJ Friends Page, and I read the digest a couple of times a day. Non-LJ blogs I use Blogger to give me a digest. There are slow days, but I get something every day.

Randall Munroe, of course, knows how to capture all these feelings, with xkcd in stick figures:

The alt-text from a mouse hover reads, "[image: Oh, because Facebook has worked out SO WELL for everyone.]"

Of course LiveJournal hasn't made it easy, ever since they sold themselves. The Russian owners, the whole customer service debacle of LiveJournal Release 88 -- which was never completely resolved, etc.

Dreamwidth isn't particularly active among the people I follow, but the community is nice and the customer service is outstanding. I blog on Dreamwidth and crosspost to LJ -- there are subtle differences between DW and LJ and it's easier this way. And Anonymous comments are easier on LJ, alas, from the crap I get. But Mrs. Dr. Phil is amongst the many who don't have accounts on either and I'm not cutting her off. Various open login options exist including Facebook -- and everyone has trouble with them. And yeah, I also crosspost a link to LiveJournal from Facebook.

But I have a Permanent Account on LiveJournal, so there's no reason NOT to post/crosspost/comment there. And I have no desire to roll-my-own and put a WordPress or other blog on my website. So I'm on LiveJournal til they close down the servers.

Which hopefully isn't any time soon.

Dr. Phil


(Guess which one of these three is grossly out of date... grin.)