Misguidedgeek Summer Reading List:  Space Operas
I know, I know, I already did this one, but since last summer, I started reading a new series, recommended by a reader on the last post, that I need to share.  Also I have another must read classic that I wanted to get out there, but couldn’t really find the right genre, Space Opera seemed as good a place as any… you will see once I get there.

Classic Must Read:  The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979)
I have come back to the space opera recommendation post in part because I could not find a more appropriate genre for Douglas Adams’ classic (my beat up, dog eared copy of the “ultimate edition” pictured).  What other genre would you use to identify this book?  Comic Science Fiction?  Sure.  Speculative Science Fiction?  Yeah that fits.  But for me, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is firmly a space opera.  It’s big, it’s expansive, it’s long, there is melodrama and romance, action and adventure.  You follow the protagonists from the beginning of time to the end of time, from earth to a restaurant at the end of the universe.  What else do you want from a space opera?  

If you have never ventured into the world of Douglas Adams, then you are doing a disservice to yourself and society.  These books can be hard to follow, but once you accept the whimsy of the world that Adams has created, then you can simply sit back and enjoy the crazy, CRAZY ride.  I have spent many a summer day with this mostly harmless tome, trying to figure out the meaning of life, the universe and everything (42), discerning the beauty of perfectly formed fjords, and falling in love again and again with Arthur Dent, Ford Perfect, Marvin the depressed robot, Trillian, and the two headed Zaphod Beeblebrox.  This is one of my all time favorites, by one of the all time greats.

Contemporary Must Read:  The Honorverse (1992 - Present)
The second reason I wanted to revisit the space opera list, was because on my last post, a reader recommended the Honor Harrington series.  I would like to consider myself well versed in most of science fiction, yet David Webber’s Honorverse, as fans call the collection of novels, had slipped below my radar.  It just so happened at this time the first two books of the series, On Basilisk Station (April 1992) and The Honor of the Queen (June 1993) were free, the e-book version anyway, on Amazon.  So I picked them up and I am very happy I did.
The series follows Honor Harrington, crafty and fearless military heroine and officer of the  Royal Manticoran Navy.  This militaristic series examines a large variety of themes from the obvious duty, honor (an oft used pun), chain of command, and relations with civil authority, to broader themes of human rights, gender norms, and xenophobia.
As we all know, I love Star Trek, the adventure, the technology, the crew relationships, yet I haven’t found many book series, including the majority of the Start Trek books themselves, that have been able to balance all of these factors without being down right boring.  All the books I have read so far in this run, I am through the fifth book, have kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  These are fun, simple reads, perfect for a summer day spent by the pool.
Just to jog your memory below were my other recommendations in the space opera genre:
Foundation Series - Isaac Asimov
 Ringworld and the Known Space Series - Larry Niven 
The Culture - Ian M. Banks (RIP) 
Star Trek New Frontier -  John J. Ordover and Peter David 
Coyote - Allen Steele 
Seeker and the Alex Benedict series -Jack McDevitt 
Xeelee Sequence -  Stephen Baxter’s (be warned its MASSIVE) 
Expanse Series - James S.A. Corey (upcoming TV show)
Dune - Frank Herbert

Let me know if I missed your favorite.  You see MY recommendations, what space operas would you suggest?
June 10, 2014 VIEW POST
The After:  Review, Another Great Reason to be a Cord Cutter.
I had a chance to catch one of Amazon’s new pilots last night, The After, and I am going to share my thoughts on what I thought about the new show from X Files creator Chris Carter, but first off I want to say, once again, how excited I am for all the original content being pumped out there for online consumption.  Beyond just the amount, there is a ton, I think the quality and the consistency is getting to a point that it is now a VERY legitimate threat to cable.  Yes, there is House of Cards and Orange is the New Black from Netflix, but that has really been about it.  I watched all of Amazon’s last batch of pilots, and I didnt really get into any of them (although Alpha Dog’s was ok.)  The After, taking away the premise and story, is a high quality show, featuring solid filmography, decent writing, a talent cast, and good special effects.
Ok, now lets talk about the show itself.  Im going to keep this spoiler free, but honestly there isnt much to spoil.  The After is either going to be Lost or Alcatraz, Twin Peaks or The Event.  Its another one of those “something mysterious is happening, but we cant tell you what because thats the entire plot of the show, also we dont even know what it is, just watch for 5 seasons and we will give you some hints” kind of shows, that seem to start out strong, but wilt under scrutiny.
The After takes place in Los Angeles, and revolves around a group of people who mysteriously lose track of a day, a day in which the whole world (maybe literally) goes to hell.  The population is in panic, and there is a feigned reference to people being infected.  There is no water, no power, no civil government that is readily apparent, and it seems that all our motley crew can depend on are themselves… their perfectly mixed (racially, ethnically, socioeconomically) and flawed (prostitute, alcoholic, sad clown, criminal) selves.  Being an internet exclusive does have its advantages, in the fact that The After has some brief nudity, and an excessive (really) amount of F-Bombs, to the point that it was kind of distracting.
I’m interested in The After, and I’m sure we will get at least one season of the show. I think the “Pilot” designation is merely a formality, seeing as it has the massive names of Chris Carter and Jamie Kennedy attached, plus I feel as if Amazon is putting their weight behind this show to make it their House of Cards.  We will see what happens, it has all the makings of a fun run, with a compelling premise and interesting enough cast of characters.  
The After will be an Amazon Prime exclusive, but you can catch the pilot for free even if you dont have prime.  Check it out, and let me know your thoughts.
February 10, 2014 VIEW POST
Doctor Who 50th:  Day of the Doctor Spoiler Free Review
You, like Im sure most everyone else in the world, has already seen the Day of the Doctor the 50th Anniversary spectacular that aired this past Saturday.  Yet, if you are one of the few that has not seen it yet, Im going to keep Spoilers (Spoilers) out of my review, outside of the typical trailer fair.
First off, its good to have Who back, these long breaks are tough to handle, so I badly needed the fix.  With that out of the way, Ill be honest, I found much of the story line itself, well, rather drab.  Moffat and company scored some nostalgia points, there were a TON of nostalgia to go around though, by bringing back the shape shifting Zygons, but I found them dull as the main monster of the special. 
Its an episode that starts fast, but quickly bogs itself down with too many early plot lines, between 11 and the modern Zygons, 10 and Elizabeth and the Zygons in the past.  And then the other Doctor, who we met in the Season 7 finale and we found out in the “webisode” Night of the Doctor is actually “The Warrior”, kind of Doctor 8.5, which both fills the gap between 8 and 9, and gives #8 fans a final chance to say their goodbye.  His mission, and existence, is in fact is the main plot.  So, with all that going on, the first 30 or so minutes of the episode is clutter, confusion, and honestly, a little boring.
But, once the exposition is out of the way, the show gets going, dealing with heavy moral issues and delving into the very essence of the who the Doctor is/was/is going to be (the answer is Who Knows).  Even with all the deep character exploration, the interplay between Smith and Tennant keeps things light and fun, inducing many a school girl giggle from yours truly, as I was delighted to get “my” doctor back for one more run.  The story rounds out to a fantastic, goosebump inducing climax, that really needs to bee seen (multiple times) for full effect.  
All in all, even with a slow start, this is a truly tremendous gift to all Doctor Who fans, from the long time fans, to the recent converts.  Every Doctor (yes all of them) has a role to play, and its fun to take a trip down memory lane with your favorite.  This is not just a fan service special though, this is really an amazing story, that should stand the test of time as one of the absolute best Doctor Who stories of all time.
Image Credit AndyDaRoo
November 25, 2013 VIEW POST
One Geek’s Opinion:  Almost Human
I have a very bad habit of getting too excited about any new Science Fiction show that pops up.  I LOVE the genre, and I am always quick, often too quick, to slup up any and all offerings.  I had a chance to catch part one of the Almost Human season premier, and I thought I would take a moment to share this geek’s opinion on Fox’s new offering.
Lets just get right to the point, there is nothing new about Almost Human, it relies on about every old trope there is, both in the realm of science fiction, and in a crime drama.  Damaged curmudgeon detective?  Check.  Advanced society with a dark underbelly?  Check.  Loan wolf cop who reluctantly accepts help from a young partner on the behest of his hard nosed commanding officer?  Check.  Robots?  Check.
Its all here, but there is a reason shows keep using these story telling devices, its because they work.  We all love a damaged hero seeking retribution and relevance again.  We adore an underdog story.  We are excited for the future, but wary of the pros and cons of new technology.  And lets be honest, who doesn’t appreciate a good buddy cop story?  Almost Human doesn’t recreate the wheel, but it keeps it spinning with a fun, fast paced police drama, with enough witty banter to break up the intense story.  Full of human vs robot angst, and cop vs mob action, its a fun show with a lot of promise, plus it stars Bones/Judge Dread Karl Urban, who is an outright amazing actor.  It reminds me of I-Robot, if Sonny and Will Smith became partners at the end of the movie and waged a two man (well one man one robot) war on organized crime.  Well really thats exactly what this is, and I for one am fan… so far anyway.  I maybe wrong, but hey, this is just one geek’s opinion.
Make sure to check out part 2 of the season premier tonight on Fox, 8 EST, and as always, let me know what you thought of the show in the comments below, or hit me up on twitter @misguidedgeek.  
November 18, 2013 VIEW POST
Misguidedgeek Summer Reading List:  Dystopian Novels
Perhaps not the most uplifting of summer reads, a good dystopian novel cant be beat. For those of you new to this genre, a dystopian story portraying a future where society’s structure has changed to such a degree that it is no longer recognizable, and is most always a negative change for the main character(s), this is the opposite of a utopia, Most of these tow the line between pure science fiction, and more speculative political dramas, but just like any good sci fi, should have multiple layers, mixing morality with deep intrinsic questions about self and society.  So, without further adieu, below are my top two dystopian must reads, a contemporary and classic, as well as some other reading recommendations in the genre.

Contemporary Must Read:  Children of Men
Published in 1992, this is pushing the limits of what I consider contemporary, however I haven’t read anything that has come out in the last, say 10 or so years, that I would say is a must read in the genre.  Children of Men is set place in a world where men’s sperm count have dropped to zero, so mankind is faced with its own extinction.  Due to this, Governments create a police state just to keep the world from tearing itself apart.  The story follows the journey of a young pregnant woman, possibly the only pregnant woman on earth.  

Classic Must Read:  Fahrenheit 451
This is possibly Bradbury’s finest work, and arguably the best work in the genre.  451 take place in a future where books have become outlawed, and where only the government controls every aspect of life and stimuli.  Books and new ideas are seen as a threat, and thus now allowed.  Firemen, like the main character, are charged with burning all books on sight.  It is a statement on what could happen if our people, and culture continue to get dumbed down, relying on contemporary media and the television to entertain and educate, rather than challenging themselves to do more, and to learn more.  Where most dystopian novels attack the left or the right, Bradbury attacks pop culture.  The main character transitions from a soldier of the state, to a free thinker on the run. 
Other dystopian novels to consider:
Brave New World -Aldous Huxley
1984 - George Orwell
Armageddon’s Children - Terry Brooks
The Running Man - Richard Bachman
Iron Heel - Jack London
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Let me know here in the comments if you have any further recommendations.  What is your favorite novel in this genre?
July 24, 2013 VIEW POST
Misguidedgeek Summer Reading List:  Space Operas
Tomorrow begins the first day of summer, and the for the next 4 months, you can expect long sunny days full of rest, relaxation, and finally an opportunity to dig into that ever growing reading list.  Should you need suggestions, keep and eye out here, because I will be running my bi-weekly summer reading list in a large number of genres and sub genres, offering a recent and a classic must read, and then a few additional suggestions in each field.
First off, I want to start with my one of my favorite sub genres of Science Fiction, the Space Opera.  For a long time the Space Opera was ridiculed by the masses, and perceived as the weakest of the Science Fiction outlets.  Recently though, since maybe the 1980’s, not only has there been a resurgence, but the Space Opera has become probably the most popular form of work in the genre. Often packed with action, adventure, and a huge reaching scope, the Space Opera is a perfect Summer reading choice! 

Contemporary Must Read:  Expanse Series
James S.A. Corey is the pen name of  Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and their new series follows the adventures of Jim Holden as he, and his crew, struggle against interstellar politics, and otherworldly threats.  If you have played Mass Effect you will have a good sense of the flow of this series.  The books are full of ethical, moral, and spiritual dilemmas, and the characters (of which there are a large number) are constantly tested, their decisions, good and bad, have massive impacts on the story line.  Where a lot of Space Opera’s can get bogged down in their own grandiose, Expanse keeps its focus and story on the main characters, both on how outside events affect them, and how their decision affect the solar system.  

Classic Must Read:  Dune
Ignore the sequels and the rest of the series, and spend your time and energy on the first book, because not only is it the best of the bunch, and one of the best Space Operas, it is one of the best Science Fiction books ever written.  Dune is set in an interstellar society where a number of houses run individual planets.  The main setting is Arrakis, which is the only spice producing planet of the empire, a product of which the Empire itself is dependent upon for is survival.  The “hero” of the book is Paul Atreides, son of an aristocrat whose family is killed, and later becomes a messiah to the indigenous population of Arrakis, aka Dune.  Full of political strife, religious and spiritual questions, ecology, questions of hero worship, and a whole mess of other high level thoughts and ideologies, Dune is a heavy complex book that Frank Herbert is able to control like a master composer.  It all comes together to create a beautiful, though provoking story.
Other Space Opera Options
Foundation Series - Isaac Asimov
Ringworld and the Known Space Series - Larry Niven
The Culture - Ian M. Banks (RIP)
Star Trek New Frontier -  John J. Ordover and Peter David 
Coyote - Allen Steele
Seeker and the Alex Benedict series -Jack McDevitt
Xeelee Sequence -  Stephen Baxter’s (be warned its MASSIVE)

Leave out your favorite?  Let me know in the comments or the usual places (Facebook/Twitter).
June 20, 2013 VIEW POST
Early NX Concepts Show the Enterprise that Might Have Been.
I have seen a few concepts for the NX class that have been out there, but I stumbled upon this little guy on Reddit, and thought it was worth sharing.  Just to jog your memory, Star Trek Enterprise was the last of the Star Trek TV shows, and although not bad (in my opinion) it was critically panned, both from the outside community and the Star Trek base.

The most common concept I usually see is the one above, which I pulled from the great Memory Alpha site, which is kind of a mix of the traditional federation saucer (see the location of the bridge) a Defiant class (solid hull construction) and the Pheonix, Dr. Zefram Cochrane ship seen in Star Trek First Contact (check the warp nacelles and the way in which they are connected to the hull.)
I never really disliked the NX, although it did always bug me that really it was just an Akira flipped upside down, but the design never really stuck with me as did any of the Enterprises, Voyager, or the Defiant.  This new, to me anyway, concept at least seems to bring it in line with the Star Trek Mythos, it looks like a Federation star ship, hell, it looks like an Enterprise.  
May 24, 2013 VIEW POST
April 10, 2013 VIEW POST

Asimov’s Three Laws Of Robotics
February 17, 2013 VIEW POST