Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Flu diversions

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  • Paul Litterick,

    So, let me get this right.

    Higgs Bosons (which turn out to be far smarter critters than any of us, including Higgs, had realised) are coming back from the future to prevent us finding out about them.

    Meanwhile, the stories I loved as a teenager - Survivors, Logan's Run, The Day the Earth Stood Still - are coming back from the past in new versions.

    I find all this very confusing. When I was a teenager, I had a quite reasonable expectation that there would be a future. As things turned out, not only did we not get the Moon colonies, but we have our teenage culture remade for a new audience. And it is not just classic sci-fi series, but also lounge suites in burnt orange, flared trousers and chopper bikes.

    If a Higgs Boson should happen to be reading, could it please tell me what happens next?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I've found it a matter of whether there's a consistent system or not. Magic or science, doesn't matter. I really dislike spec-fic where the speculative elements are clearly being, as we officially call it at Bardic Web, 'pulled out of your arse'.

    Hear hear. I read a fair bit of fantasy, and the better ones always had some explanation as to where magic came from - combining elements, drawing on the power of a god or a mutation or something. Some others... well yup, out of your arse is a description of the theory, and often the quality of the result.

    Spiderman annoys me somewhat. I want to know if he eats the right diet to produce that much silk. Sure, the whole franchise wouldn't have sold as well, but I think he also should have eaten a lot more flies.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    I, Robot is, as one of my friends put it, the best movie ever based on the title of an Asimov book. Frankly, we were all pleasantly surprised -- the trailers suggested the film was going to consist entirely of Will Smith punching robots while looking into the camera and saying "aw, hell no!" That it turned out to display even some amount of respect for (if not actual faithfulness to) the source material was nice to see.

    And we were all gothy, The Crow/__Dark City__-watching Alex Proyas fans, too, which didn't hurt.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    On a side note: the entire Plan 9 from Outer Space is on Google Video.

    I saw it decades ago in Dunedin, a double feature billed as "The worst movies ever made", Plan 9 & Robotmonster.

    Plan 9 was merely bad, Robotmonster was colossally & entertainingly bad, a man in a gorilla suit topped with a fishbowl. Seek it out.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Must find Robot Monster!

    Oh and while King Kong vs Godzilla sounds cool, it really isn't.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Must find Robot Monster!

    Ro-Man: "I cannot - yet I must. How do you calculate that? At what point on the graph do "must" and "cannot" meet? Yet I must - but I cannot!"

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    Seek it out

    Was early for a meeting in Melbourne a few years ago and was idly window shopping, and I stumbled over a whole table of B-grade sci-fi DVDs for $2 each. I therefore have a library, most as yet un-watched!

    Hamilton • Since Jun 2007 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Must find Robot Monster!

    While you're looking for it, have a search for The Creeping Terror, which is equally delightful. A giant piece of carpet wiggles slowly and completely unmenacingly towards its hapless victims, who basically have to leap into it of their own free will in order to fulfill the 'terror' part of the plot.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    I've found it a matter of whether there's a consistent system or not. Magic or science, doesn't matter. I really dislike spec-fic where the speculative elements are clearly being, as we officially call it at Bardic Web, 'pulled out of your arse'.

    The most coherent fantasy magic system I've ever seen is in Jim Grimsley's Spec fic novels - starting with Kirith Kirin and moving on to The Ordinary and The Last Green Tree. Kirith Kirin is a very nice, well, written straight up fantasy, with a very well explained and structured magic system. The 2nd two are fantasy / SF crossovers, and give a lovely explanation of why things developed in that way. All 3 are also much better written than a lot of spec fic - Grimsley's better known as a (rather good) writer of plays and gay literary fiction. Kirith Kirin is rather terminally out of print (the other two are relatively easy to find), but I know that Wellington library, at least, has several copies.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    While you're looking for it, have a search for The Creeping Terror, which is equally delightful. A giant piece of carpet wiggles slowly and completely unmenacingly towards its hapless victims, who basically have to leap into it of their own free will in order to fulfill the 'terror' part of the plot.

    Ha, yes! I wouldn't have seen nearly so much appalling scifi if it wasn't for Alice's.

    I know that Wellington library, at least, has several copies

    I think there's one circulating round the Chch libraries, cause I've read them all.

    Those who like their spec-fic to make sense might enjoy E.E. Knight's dissertation on why Eragon sucks.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    I think there's one circulating round the Chch libraries, cause I've read them all.

    Gah! Well, Emma, you're the first other person I've come across who has. They are, I think, very good books, and seem to be oddly ignored by the SF community in general. Although the fact that they feature teh gayz might have something to do with that...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Stone,

    OK, it's a slightly off-topic promo (but only slightly) but...

    If you're a fan of sci-fi, you may want to check out the Starship Sofa podcast. Plenty of discussion on the old masters of SF and a pile of new and classic fiction. Recently we've had stories by Gene Wolfe, Jeff VanderMeer, Terry Bisson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Lucius Sheppard, Michael Marshall Smith and we've got a recent Michael Moorcock coming soon.

    There's even a kiwi accent on it every now and then :)

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Natural viruses, like all living things evolve (if you go in for that sort of thing)... and any virus that kills 100% of its hosts does not have a big future! An artificial or created virus may not suffer from this evolutionary restriction?

    The thing is a virus is often just the first thing among many invaders to move into a host - in the case of the flu, the actual virus you catch (1 - 4 day incubation period) will only stay with you for 7 - 10 days, but it very commonly lays you open to secondary bacterial infections. These usually settle on the chest, but can settle elsewhere - throat, sinuses - or if you're really unlucky and push yourself physically at the wrong point during the illness - in the heart muscle. While you have a flu it's very much the wrong time for strenuous exercise.

    Many viruses kill their hosts in this manner - first running their course of infection, but in doing so they precipitate a number of secondary bacterial infections.

    Every flu and cold you get while you're young, or at least not elderly will protect you from a similar strain later in life. Teachers, young parents and nurses usually spend the first 5 years of duty sick as dogs (children average 6 viruses of some sort a year, often sharing them around). But you want to get a few cold and flu viruses under your belt (and recorded in your immune system) before you're 75 or 85.

    Bad news for parents: stomach bugs (rotavirus, norovirus etc) mutate at such a rate you can get them all over again a few weeks later from someone who originally caught it the same place as you, and you never, ever have anything resembling immunity.

    I'm not a doctor by the way, just very keen on microbiology and biochemistry.

    Rustle Brown, listen up I have a cure for flu, courtesy of all my Chinese and Japanese relatives. Or rather a remedy that tricks you into feeling cured for the 45 minutes or so you need to fall asleep. It works as a topical anesthetic for a sore throat, anti-nausea treatment that is osmotically desirable (like an oral rehydration solution), it is a powerful expectorant (clears bronchi) and also clears the nose. This tea works well but the good effect of a cup wears off in less than an hour. The hydrating effect is better than water though, and important for 1) speeding up the process of the virus and 2) keeping protected against secondary infections.

    Ginger Tea

    Wash & peell 1 small chunk of ginger (a bit less than 1Tbsp). Grate into a mug and pour over 1 cup boiling water. Let stand for 30 seconds, pour into another mug through a tea strainer & add honey to taste (between .25 & 1 tsp for most people).

    While you still have a temperature (usually just the first 2 days of a flu) take panadol, asprin or a non-steroidal antinflammatory or you will feel even more crap, and being able to sleep soundly is essential at this stage of the flu.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Rustle Brown

    Has made like a tree and leafed?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    They are, I think, very good books, and seem to be oddly ignored by the SF community in general. Although the fact that they feature teh gayz might have something to do with that...

    Aw, I don't know if that's entirely fair -- SF fandom has it's fair share of bigoted arseholes (and how...), but even when you're being published by a powerhouse like TOR (which has a eclectic and crap-lite list that I'd be proud to part of) , it's always going to be a challenge becoming a crossover hit when you're damn near impossible to put in a tidy marketing category. I'm just thankful that genre sluts like Grimsley, Jonathan Carroll and Gene Wolfe (who IMNSHO is America's finest living writer period and full stop) and their kin have a place in mainstream publishing at all.

    And while SF/fantasy is pronounced dead more often than God, The Novel and Civilization combined, I can't keep up with everything worth reading. And I'd like to flatter myself that I'm no slouch when it comes to digesting the printed word.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Stone,

    Although the fact that they feature teh gayz might have something to do with that...

    I don't think SF fandom is scared of teh gayz. What about Delaney? Ricardo Pinto? Clive Barker? Mary Doria Russell? The latest Richard Morgan?

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I saw it decades ago in Dunedin, a double feature billed as "The worst movies ever made"

    In 1984 Channel 4 ran a Friday night special called The Worst of Hollywood over most of the year. They showed the movie at The Scala with a pre and post film commentary / panel and it was broadcast simultaneously on TV.

    We made it to the Scala quite a few times and Ed Wood featured strongly in the series (I liked Bride of the Monster which from memory was the one where Bela Lugosi died after filming and Ed replaced him with someone who looked completely different for a few shots that needed reshooting), however They Saved Hitler's Brain was my favourite in the season. A head on the backseat of a limo in Argentina yelling 'schnell! schnell!' may or may not be worth seeing but at the time it was an evening well spent.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Or if you really want to make your literary career even more difficult, follow the sterling example of Howard Waldrop -- whose c.v is full of small press chapbooks, long out of print collection that change hands on E-Bay for first-born's souls, stories in obscure magazines and defunct websites and... oh, I just have to cry.

    But you could bug your nearest public library to invest in Old Earth Book's recently published retrospective collections. Because anyone whose imagination recast the Labours of Hercules in a Mississippi town in the 20's, set the ghost of Richard Wagner loose in the Peoples' Federated States of Europe in 1876, reveal the secret history of how 'Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll' caused the Great New York Blackout pf 1965, why The Martians never had a chance in Texas, and so much more is too good not to share.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Stone,

    Craig,
    Waldrop is the man. 'Flying Saucer Rock and Roll' is a stone cold classic.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    (I liked Bride of the Monster which from memory was the one where Bela Lugosi died after filming and Ed replaced him with someone who looked completely different for a few shots that needed reshooting),

    Nah, that was Plan 9 - you only see Lugosi leaving his house & picking & smelling a flower, all other scenes feature a guy about 2 feet taller hiding his face with his cape (apparently Wood's wife's chiropracter).

    however They Saved Hitler's Brain was my favourite in the season. A head on the backseat of a limo in Argentina yelling 'schnell! schnell!' may or may not be worth seeing but at the time it was an evening well spent.

    Heh. I will look out for that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I've got (or had) a book describing the worst of the worst. I've always hankered to see Eegah featuring a pre James Bond Jaws & a chap called Arch Hall Jr (his dad directed) who was described as an all singing & dancing and acting phenomenon exactly unlike Ricky Nelson.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • James Harton,

    (Who wrote the rule that every postmillenial sci-fi tortured detective must own a supercar to crash as a plot point later on? Or is this just a standard movie detective trope that chimes neatly with the interests of carmakers?)

    Just FYI, Rick Deckard, the most tortured most sci-fi cop, doesn't own or crash a supercar. He does find a toad with a hovercar though, not sure if that counts.

    I still contend that __Manos: The Hands of Fate__ is the worst film ever made (you haven't lived until you've seen the stage production!), but it's not really sci-fi until you add Joel and the Robots. My second pick is __Nude on the Moon__. Awe inspring.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Aw, I don't know if that's entirely fair -- SF fandom has it's fair share of bigoted arseholes (and how...), but even when you're being published by a powerhouse like TOR (which has a eclectic and crap-lite list that I'd be proud to part of)

    Agreed, Craig - all hail TOR. Pan McMillan, the UK branch, publishes Hal Duncan and Jeff Vandermeer - who are both seriously awesome, but way, way more weird than the norm for commerical skiffy.

    And Grant:

    Although the fact that they feature teh gayz might have something to do with that...

    I don't think SF fandom is scared of teh gayz. What about Delaney? Ricardo Pinto? Clive Barker? Mary Doria Russell? The latest Richard Morgan?

    perhaps I should clarify. I really like all those authors. I'm glad that Pinto is FINALLY going to have the last Stone Dance book out next year. A lot of critics like them. But the readership for all of them, when compared to someone like David Weber or Terry Goodkind (ack) is tiny. Also, the latest Richard Morgan squicked quite a few blog reviewers out (it just made me laugh - Morgan is ludicrously in your face) - I read a number that essentially said "This is like George R R Martin but with too much gay."

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • James Harton,

    I've got (or had) a book describing the worst of the worst. I've always hankered to see Eegah featuring a pre James Bond Jaws & a chap called Arch Hall Jr (his dad directed) who was described as an all singing & dancing and acting phenomenon exactly unlike Ricky Nelson.

    I've seen it - you will most easily find a copy by searching for MST3K episodes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Grant Stone,

    Eddie,

    I have no idea how Goodkind does it. I have about five of his books at home (special deal from the UK SF book club). Got about two paragraphs in. Book. Met. Wall. Same for Robert Jordan.

    I can see the latest Richard Morgan squicking people. I liked it, but not as much as his other books. Something was jarring and I don't know what since I normally prefer sword and sorcery over sci fi.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

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