Sunday, October 26, 2014

TV Review: Roughnecks Starship Troopers Chronicles

Ask not what your late '90's CGI military SF series can do for YOU...

Engaged in the obsessive goal of reading and watching everything Robert Heinlein spawned (even peripherally), I was excited to find "Roughnecks Starship Troopers Chronicles" on DVD at the used bookstore Wee Book Inn. And I finally finished watching it today, only 15 years late to the battlefront. One season with a gluttonous 36 episodes- not counting a whopping FOUR clip shows. Sweet Christmas, talk about overkill!

Entrenched in day 43 of the Interstellar Bug War, the space marines of SICON have seized and maintained a firm hold on Uncanny Valley. Seen here is psi-talented trooper Carl Jenkins, overcome with childlike glee...

Oh, my mistake, that's a Cybernetic Humanoid Assault System, or CHAS. This robot character was featured in the best episode of the series- "Of Flesh and Steel", making the ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of all Non-Bug-Kind...

No, sorry, right the first time. THIS is CHAS. That dead-eyed hobgoblin up there was Carl, all right.

Stiff, wooden, creatures from hell (and their foes, the bugs of Klendathu) battle across simulated ice, "water", jungle, and desert with all the sex and violence available to the impressionable North American youth of 1999 at 6 AM on a Saturday.

But, to its credit, this series is actually the first Starship Troopers product to fulfill my twisted desire for chronological completeness by finally mentioning that (in this flat little dimension at least) Rico and chums signed up to stomp arachnids in 2078. If only this trivia made the series better. O.K., so the campaigns have their moments... usually taken word-for-word from the first movie.

Wee Book will get this one back... if they are unwary enough to take it! Final Score from best to worst: ST the movie, ST: Invasion, ST the book, ST3, ST2, and, in fairness, I haven't found the eighties era anime adaptation yet, but it CAN'T possibly be worse than ST2.

The best I can say is that all the folks behind this forgettable, humourless toon were probably killing themselves making so much with so little. "Reboot" had it beat all hollow, but for someone with helmet-mounted nostalgia goggles on, it's probably fine... in teeny, tiny, firefry-sized doses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: The Callahan Chronicals

Based on how often I post here, you'd think I had stopped reading and taken up some other hobby... such as drinking to excess. Incorrect!

The Thanksgiving season makes me thankful for the love of my life and the finest friends I could ask for. Without them I'd surely turn to boozy self-medication, which I'd otherwise regard as a deeply mistaken approach to problem solving.

Spider Robinson presents a sci-fi version of the place where everybody knows your name. Even if your name is Txffu Mpwfs, the world-destroying cyborg from the short story "The Guy With The Eyes". This weekend I finished the short-story collection of Mr. Robinson's: 'The Callahan Chronicals'. (I love the wrap-around cover! (Shown Here) It turns out there are only 6 characters I can't name on it. Five if the cat reaching for the cash is Pixel from Heinlein's 'The Cat Who Walks Through Walls'.)

Mr. Robinson is previously known to me peripherally as the guy who co-wrote 'Variable Star' with Robert Heinlein's ghost. Long-time readers of my blog will know that book very nearly topped the list of my favourite books of the noughties. My manager Chris gets a great big thank-you for loaning me some of Mr. Robinson's earliest books and magazines (including early printings of the Hugo winning Telempath and Stardancer stories). But Spider Robinson is arguably most famous for Callahan's Place, which spawned great fan love online as the Interwebs were first being spun, and that love continues today. The Place is the kindest, most psychologically sympathetic bar you've ever heard of. At Callahan's the wretched and the weird discover 'shared pain is lessened, shared joy is increased'. I appreciate the bad jokes and the good intentions. This is some darn fine writing. I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

Oh, and if you have just under 4 minutes, here's Author/Music Man Spider Robinson performing his own The Drunkard's Song.