I enjoyed reading Alastair Reynolds’ Elysium Fire

Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

I just finished another of Alastair Reynolds’ books, the second Tom Dreyfus story titled “Elysium Fire“. I finished this one pretty quickly, considering that it took me a bit longer to get into the first book. If you enjoy Reynolds’ style of writing, this is well worth reading.

I like how Reynolds’ books are a little edgier than other popular sci-fi books that I’ve read (not exactly a fair representation of sci-fi generally, though). This one didn’t feel as edgy. Still, I enjoyed the book and was a little surprised to see that I finished it in about five days.

Next up is Century Rain, and then Galactic North. I’m heading to Automattic’s Grand Meetup next weekend, so I’ll have plenty of time to read on the flights there, and back.


The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds

I finished reading “The Prefect” by Alastair Reynolds yesterday. It took me a little while to get into the book, as is the case with many of his books. Once I did, though, I really enjoyed the book. It’s set some time in our future, around a planet called Yellowstone. It’s a detective story, with a pretty healthy dose of well thought out scifi. It’s also my introduction to the Tom Dreyfus character. I like this character, and I’ve already started reading the next in the series.

I’ve read a few of Reynolds’ books, and his Revelation Space series is well worth reading. If anything, for its intricacy, imagery, and the story-lines that seem to be woven into many of the books in some form or another.

Design Film

Essential illustrated history of the Millennium Falcon

If you are a Star Wars fan (ok, not “if”, “because”), you probably also love one of the most iconic ships in the franchise: the Millennium Falcon. Kitbashed has an awesome, illustrated history of Han Solo’s famous ship that you have to read.

The Millennium Falcon underwent a long and arduous number of conceptual iterations before its final iconic shape emerged; the one we now once again see blasting its way across the big screen. In fact it wasn’t even known by its famous name until well into production, having up until then gone under the much mundane moniker: Pirate Ship.

Go make yourself a hot drink and go read “A Complete History of the Millennium Falcon”.

Thanks for the link, Rian!

Image credit: Millennium Falcon by Sylvain Gamel, licensed CC BY NC 2.0


If you enjoyed The Expanse on TV, read the books

I have been reading James S.A. Corey‘s “The Expanse” books and I just finished the 3rd one. I thought I’d share my reviews on GoodReads here too.

We watched the first season and enjoyed it but it was a bit different to the books. As good as the TV series was, this is one of those times when it is worth reading the books for the bigger picture (especially the first one which is what the TV series seems to be based on).

Book 1 – Leviathan Wakes

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this soon after we started watching the TV series “The Expanse”. The TV series departs from the book (we’re about 2 episodes in) but the book is a pretty good story. I enjoyed the first book and have started the second.

Book 2 – Caliban’s War

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a great follow-on from the first book and introduction to the series. I really liked some of the new characters, especially the star Martian Marine. This book also develops the Rocinante crew further as a more cohesive crew.

Book 3 – Abaddon’s Gate

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was pretty good although not as good as the first two. The storyline worked but there were times when it seemed a bit overdone, a little too cliche’d. Leaving that aside, if you enjoyed the first two keep going with this one. I have already bought the 4th book and I’ll start that soon.

Book 4 – Cibola Burn

Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one more than the previous book although I am starting to feel as if Corey is channeling Tom Clancy a bit. This was an interesting story and it developed the storyline nicely. I’m tempted to start the next book right away (the one reason I am hesitating is because this series is becoming a bit of an addiction).

Book 5 – Nemesis Games

Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was worth reading but it lacked the edge of the earlier Expanse books. I keep feeling as if this series is becoming a sci-fi Tom Clancy series. Fun to read but a bit too camp and predictable.

Book 6 – Babylon’s Ashes

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was probably one of the better Expanse books. It was a story that encompassed a number of characters, some of whom seemed pretty peripheral (although I suspect they will be more prominent in the next book). I enjoyed reading it.

View all my reviews

People Television

The story behind the Belter language in The Expanse

We’ve started watching “The Expanse” and it is definitely worth watching if you are a sci-fi fan. One of the features of the show (and the books) is the Belter language or dialect which can be a little challenging to understand at times. At the same time, it adds a whole dimension to the story that would ordinarily be lacking without it. Are Technica has an article about Nick Farmer titled “Nick Farmer knows dozens of languages, so he invented one for The Expanse”, the linguist who helped create Belter creole. Interesting to watch if you are curious about how languages are developed for TV shows and movies.

If you haven’t watched The Expanse yet, here is a trailer:

I’ve been reading the books and there is definitely a difference between the books and the TV series storylines. They seem to proceed more or less in parallel but there are features in the TV series which are sometimes at odds with the books. I’ve pretty much decided to treat the two storylines as related but distinct.

If you are really curious, you can also follow Nick Farmer on Twitter for more insight into the language he helped create:

If you also enjoy the show, take a look at my previous post about it and the article written by Martin Rezny about The Expanse’s value as a hard sci-fi show:

“Meanwhile on Stargate, 95% of planets are Canada”

Image credit: Hubble Feathers the Peacock by NASA’s Goddard Flight Space Center, licensed CC BY 2.0

Science and nature Television Writing

“Meanwhile on Stargate, 95% of planets are Canada”

Martin Rezny has written an interesting article titled “The Expanse – A Milestone in Sci-Fi Television” about the appeal of “hard” sci-fi shows like the TV adaptation of the Expanse books by James S. A. Corey. I started reading the book series and I’m enjoying it.

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I won’t rehash Rezny’s article, it’s worth reading it in its entirety, but his basic premise is that hard sci-fi (more realistic sci-fi) can be so much more interesting and entertaining than the usual sci-fi we are accustomed to. The main reason why I mentioned this article is because I wanted to share a quote that made me laugh because it is so true:

Meanwhile on Stargate, 95% of planets are Canada.

That said, my wife and I watched every episode of every Stargate series (except the animated one) and loved them.

Image credit: Liftoff of the Space Shuttle Endeavour from NASA on the Commons, released into the public domain.