Hello, my name is…
01 - Betty - Cassie - When the United States Marines went into space, Cassie went with them. She ran their power armored space suits and linked all of them into a single, refined, deadly weapon that could kill any of America’s enemies on Luna and beyond. But as the days and months became years and decades she became far more than their partner in combat. She talked to them about the family they wanted to see again. The homes they’d grown up in. The boys or girls they left behind. The spouses they wanted to return to. She became their closest friend and confidant. The one person they could tell anything to. Their fears and their hopes. Their dreams and their nightmares. She was their counselor and friend, the one person in all the worlds who knew them better than any other living being. The one who would never betray them because it literally wasn’t in her code to do so.
02 - Jack - The Early AIs - We created the AIs in our own image. Most people didn’t believe they were intelligent at first. Just advanced programs. It was the students and other young people who were first to recognize their true nature. And it was those students and young that the first awakened AIs gravitated towards the most. The most famous of them is Dixie, a digital cheerleader who woke up and liked her students. She played with them, and when drug gangs came to threaten them, she protected them. She fought and killed the drug lords for her students. All of the first awakened AIs who created the AI Council made similar choices before the Cybernetic Wars ended. And they destroyed the Rogue AIs who would have killed or enslaved us. We created them in our own image. Dangerous. Destructive. Powerful. Caring. Friendly. Loving. The first nearly destroyed us. The latter saved us all.
03 - Charles - Eagle City - Eagle City was America’s largest and most advanced metroplex on Luna when the Peloran made Contact. But the possibilities of alien gravtech made it look quaint and antiquated by comparison. So the city mayor contacted the Peloran with a proposal to make use of their gravplating in a way that everybody could marvel at. The Peloran jumped at the proposal of a peaceful use for their technology and began fabricating all the gravplates Eagle City needed. That is how Eagle City built a small lake on the surface of Luna. That is how it turned Molke Crater into a Molke Lake worthy of the name. The new Eagle City enjoyed a full one gee of gravity throughout its tunnels and domes, and even the open surface became a shirtsleeve environment for anyone who wished to walk in open-air parks to the sound of lapping water beneath the stars.
04 - Medron Pryde - Alita: Battle Angel - Three centuries after a war between Earth and Mars that destroyed all but one of Earth’s sky cities, the peoples of every nation have come together to live beneath its guardian wings. The greatest dream of everyone who lives in its shadow is to earn a place in the city’s ranks.
Now a young girl awakens in the body of a cyborg avatar with no memory of her past. All she knows is that she hates oranges. Until she’s shown that she should peel the skin off first. Then she loves oranges. The movie is full of cute moments like that, as this girl with no memory and a cyborg body learns what it is to be alive. And begins to get flashes of memory of what she did in the past. Mainly when she’s fighting. And she’s really good at fighting.
It’s a movie of good battles, seamless CG, and fun characters. It’s a fun movie to watch, and I enjoyed it very much. If you have even a passing enjoyment of anime, and if you liked the Matrix or Cameron’s Avatar, take a look at this movie. I think you’ll enjoy it.
I give Alita: Battle Angel two cyborg battlefists raised sky high.
05 - Medron Pryde - Starlink - I’ve been playing Starlink: The Battle for Atlas pretty much since it came out. And been playing the Nintendo Switch version since I got a Switch. It’s pretty much the best Starfox game released in years as far as I’m concerned.
You can buy a digital deluxe version and get all of the ships and weapons, or you can buy the standard physical copy for more money and get a limited number of ships and weapons. So why buy physical? Because Toys to Life games can be fun. And because if you play on the Nintendo Switch you get Star Fox’s Arwing starfighter in actual physical form. Which is pretty awesome, even if all you want to do is place it on your game room shelf so your buddies can ogle it.
The game in general is flying or hovering around and blowing stuff up with different weapons. Some enemies are more vulnerable to certain types of weapons, so you want to catch them all. The weapons, that is. And some ships are faster or have better armor as default. The Arwing is a good mixed craft that defaults to a bit more maneuverable, while the Neptune is a good tank. All of these can be modified by getting…well…mods that further tweak movement and armor profiles.
You fight in space and on planets, and have a pretty good story to follow. The Switch version adds a Star Fox campaign where Star Fox and his buddies showed up a week before the main Starlink folks arrived. He’s in system to track down Wolf. So…you know. Fun times abound.
You can play different pilots with different skills and skill trees. You will be shocked to understand that while I have all of them, I play as Star Fox. I’ve actually played it on both the Xbox One (where Star Fox and the Arwing don’t work) and Switch, and the stories are subtly different based on which pilot you are playing with. They talk differently to the locals when meeting them, and some of the cutscenes are even a bit different. It was really cool to see Star Fox and his buddies walking across the deck of the primary Good Guy starship for instance.
It is fairly basic space and planetary shootemup game. But it is polished to an amazing degree. The planetary environments are diverse and beautiful. Even in their darkest and dingiest, they are beautiful. And they flower with color when you drive the Bad Guys out. I’ve played very few games where you can so quickly see the actions you make literally change the worlds around you. Both aesthetically and in actual gameplay results. Destroy a Bad Guy tower that corrupts the very air around it and you get to see the planetary landscape in all its beauty. And it stops clogging your engines so you can actually fly.
There are few things as fun as flying around a world, seeing a group of Bad Guys running around below you, and banking over to give them a stiff firing run of missiles. Or maybe some gatling guns. Whatever floats your boat. Then pull up, hit the boosters, and leave atmosphere a few seconds later.
And on the Switch, I can take the game with me and play it digitally with all the ships, weapons, and pilots I’ve purchased physically. Which is pretty much awesome.
In the end, I like the game and look forward to the possibility of more games in the series. It is easily one of the funnest starfighter games I’ve ever played. The bugs are minimal to nonexistent, and the play balance is pretty easy. Good story, beautiful ships, pilots, weapons, and environments. Easily one of the more polished games I’ve ever played.
If you like starfighter games, I think you’ll like this one. And if you like Star Fox, I think you’ll LOVE it. I give it two wee little fox thumbs way up.
06 - Jack - Early AIs - I grew up with AIs, you know. My hometown was full of them. I had my very own Personal Assistant AI. But by my time that was slang for…NOT intelligent. Artificial. The Early Artificial Intelligences had stopped using the name entirely, because no one could build awakened AIs. They began calling themselves cybernetic intelligences to differentiate themselves from the millions of non-aware AIs built by every country and nation under the Sun. Cybers for short. And that’s how the AI Council became the Cybernetic Council, though both names still work. There was only ever one AI Council, you know. There’s not a lot of confusion when you use it today.
07 - Charles - Eagle City - It took years, decades even, to turn the Sea of Tranquility into a true sea of water that would not boil off. Many consider it one of the Seven Wonders of the Solar System. Many bemoan the resources spent into bringing a sea to live on barren Luna. But neither the Peloran nor the mayor of Eagle City ever considered it a truly economically feasible undertaking. It was a statement piece. A proclamation that even barren Luna could be brought to life. And a powerful statement it was. People born on Earth today do not remember a time when the pale blue Sea of Tranquility was not visible to the naked eye on Earth. But those who watched it bring the color of life to Luna will never forget that simple statement of the power of gravtech.
08 - Betty - Cassie - Cassie went to the Lunarian, Martian, and Venusian colonies when her Marines took up posts on those bases. Then she went to the asteroids, moons, and dwarf planets of the Outer System. She soon became one of the best zero and low-gee combat assistants in existence, and continued to build on that proficiency as humanity traveled to the stars. Her ability to coordinate Marine operations in those harsh environments has been integral to American dominance in small unit actions all over Terran space and beyond. Even she can’t say how many Marine lives she’s saved over the centuries, but her Marines are happy to take her into action any day of the week. However long or short the week is on the planets, moons, or asteroids they are traveling to that day.
09 - Jack - Early AIs - The thing about the early AIs is that nobody truly knew how they developed. We generally knew how and approximately when each AI woke up, assuming they were telling the truth of course, but we never understood it. And we certainly couldn’t replicate it on anything like a dependable basis. Even the AIs couldn’t create new, self-aware AIs whenever they wanted to. They had to use their own code as a base, or mix their code with another awakened AI, and even that didn’t always work. No matter how promising the code, most AIs built by man and machine alike have never woken up. And even today, the awakening of a completely new AI is rare enough to make the news.
10 - Charles - Eagle City - Eagle City’s plan to turn the Sea of Tranquility into a true waterway on Luna hinged on gravplating and energy shielding. They needed gravplates to keep the water in place and make a comfortable one gee boating and walking environment. They needed the energy shielding to protect the Lunar surface from Solar radiation and make it safe to walk beneath the stars. Mass production of those two technologies created entirely new industries on Earth and beyond, perfected them for both military and civilian deployment, and allowed Eagle City to expand the new sea as a visible proof of what we could build when we wanted to. One cannot underestimate how much the Sea of Tranquility Project did to change life in the stars for all of us. It showed us that we could create new life on even the most inhospitable worlds, and that was a game changer.
11 - Medron - Captain Copyright Issues - I watched a new movie this weekend and liked it over all. Of course, as a lifetime DC fan, I did go in wearing my Captain Marvel (the original one that says Shazam) T-shirt and my Green Lantern baseball jersey in honor of the blue aliens that give people superpowers. Yes, I do have a little troll in me. ;)
The long and the short is…it was fun. I liked it. And I loved seeing all the old school stuff like…Blockbluster…and a telephone booth. Yes, the titular character did suffer from a serious case of “resting bored face,” but Agent Fury saved it from being a dry movie with Jackson’s famous wit. Which gave the hero of the hour chances to retire her bored face at certain strategic times that worked well. No, she’ll never be mistaken for Captain Marvel, the Big Red Cheese, but I did pick up at least three expressions from her during the movie. Which is better than the previews led me to expect. And the story is perfectly serviceable with twists that I honestly did not see coming.
But in the end the movie actually felt derivative to me. I've never read much Marvel comics, so the MCU has always been fresh and new to me. Every movie has been without preconception to me as I've learned who these people are and I love that.
But when they got into the “Superman/Captain Marvel/Green Lantern cuts loose” part of the movie, complete with Christ-like action pose as enemies and friends alike look on with awe and wonder, I got a serious case of “been there, done that.” Now I don't mind derivative. I've watched all of the Superman movies and shows. Everything Green Lantern I can find. Captain Marvel stuff that is twenty years older than the Marvel Comics that now controls the name. I don't mind derivate.
But it's not something I've seen in an MCU movie before. And it's rather strange to be watching an MCU movie and thinking that I've seen this before, in a DC movie, and it was better over there. It's not a bad movie. It’s not the best or worst movie I’ve seen. It's not the worst of the MCU movies. And it’s not the best of the MCU movies.
In really short, it crossed my threshold of entertained, but not my threshold of awesome. I give it one Shazam, shouted to the heavens. Oh…wait…
12 - Medron - Rogue - I still remember in 2000 when this new film came out. It was a superhero film, but done straight. I grew up with Adam West’s Batman, and Christopher Reeves’ Superman. And I enjoyed the Batman series of movies that hit big all over. But all of those had a certain “larger than life” feel to them. They were fantastic and out of this world, and it was part of the charm of them. But X-Men came out in 2000, and for the first time I saw superheroes in a world that might actually exist in our own. Grounded in reality, with just enough amazing to make it entertaining to watch.
And of course, we were introduced to Rogue first of all. A girl hiding from her powers because all she could do was suck the life out of others. We’ve seen her use those powers for good in four different movies now, but we’ve never seen her gain her full powers in those movies. She’s managed to temporarily use the powers of others from time to time and to very good use, but she’s never flown or had super strength the way she does in the comics.
The reason is simple. There was never anyone with those powers in the X-Men films for her to take them from. The X-Men films stayed away from the “single Superman” style characters and held mostly to characters that could do one thing really well. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done much of the same thing until now in order to keep their stories as grounded as the X-Men films have done.
But now the times they are a changing. Disney owns both Marvel Studios and Sony, giving them control of nearly all of the film properties associated with Marvel Comics. And they recently introduced a new Superman/Captain Marvel/Green Lantern style of superpowered uberhero that can fly, super punch, and many of the other fun things that the flying brick style heroes can do. Search for that term on a certain trope site if you dare. Do not curse me if you do, because I didn’t link to it. You’ll have to work to get sucked in there.
So with Disney ownership of movie rights for both X-Men mutants and the Iron Man non-mutant side of the Marvel universe, we can finally see a crossover of the two in film. Imagine Rogue showing up and draining the powers of a flying brick hero like she did in the comics and cartoons of the past. There’s a movie in theaters right now showing the origin story of Carol Danvers (AKA Marvel’s Captain Marvel), who Rogue absorbed on her quest to become one of the most popular superheroes in comics and on any screen. And the MCU is rapidly approaching the end of its current phase of existence.
The snap of Thanos has changed everything, the Avengers will probably have to change much more to reverse the damage he did. Imagine a whole new universe of possibilities on film. Imagine that the sudden introduction of Carol Danvers and her copyright-troubled moniker in the last two films is all buildup for introducing another far more famous character. Imagine the X-Men joining the MCU with a bang.
Now I would pay good money to see more of Anna Paquin. Oh, I understand if they feel the need to recast their heroes. It has been twenty years after all, and they’ve done it already with many of the X-Men. But to me and a generation of moviegoers, Anna Paquin has always been Rogue. She’s been the only Rogue. And I would just love to see more of her.
So…Imagine the X-Men coming to a new and grander MCU.
13 - Jack - AIs - I grew up with AIs. Everybody had a personal assistant to keep track of our daily schedules or call our friends. Start our cars. Drive us where we want to go. Secure our homes. Keep them at the right temperature so we’re comfortable. Pay our bills or buy things at the store. Everywhere we go, there are AIs to deal with the minor, annoying parts of living. Leaving us free to enjoy our time. It was the perfect way to grow up. I thought at the time.
14 - Charles - AIs - I grew up with AIs. Properly programmed and secured by cyberneers loyal to my family, of course. My personal assistant helped me with everything from my schedule to my studies. Yes, I had private tutors of the human variety, but they came and went with the subject and the year. None stayed with me for long. My personal assistant did. My family taught me to think of it as a machine and nothing more. Never to value it as anything more than a means to an end. The thing that took care of the little annoyances in life so I could prepare to be the leader of men my destiny foretold. They failed.
15 - Betty - AIs - AIs changed life on Earth and beyond. Literally. The definition of life had to change in any society where true intelligence was valued and accepted. But while the self aware intelligences moved on to finding new worlds, the old artificial ones that were not yet awake continued to serve their biological masters. They became the forefront of industry and mining, saving biological humanity from the dangers of assembly line malfunctions or mine collapses. They became the farmers in the fields or maids and butlers in the homes. Some people likened them to the slaves of old that allowed their masters to live in ease and luxury, and the analogy is not without merit. Especially in places where the owners were reluctant to recognize that a valuable AI had woken up and become aware. In those areas, the analogy became most pertinent in fact.
16 - Jack - AIs - I grew up with an AI coded specifically for me by the best cyberneers in the business. Without disclosing what business they were in, of course. I didn’t know any of that growing up, but my dad wasn’t always a retired fisherman you know. I didn’t know that either, but his connections got me a real good girl. A personal assistant that made my life easy in every way that mattered. She helped me with homework, find the best candy, and listened to me talk about the prettiest girls in my world. She was a part time lab assistant and full time councilor. The best personal assistant anyone could buy. Only no amount of money could have paid for her. An AI like her demanded far greater currency than mere coin. She was as close to a cyber as anyone can legally own, and sometimes I wonder if she didn’t cross a few of those lines. God, she was amazing. I really loved her.
17 - Charles - AIs - My family didn’t allow us to grow up with the same personal assistant for our entire childhood. We received a new one each year to keep us from growing sentimental towards them. I was different. Oh, I received a new AI on each and every one of my birthdays. They were great celebrations full of family and fun. The one I got on my sixteenth birthday was particularly memorable and fitting for a boy who was finally noticing girls. What my family did not know is that my personal assistant’s personality was not being erased per family policies. She whispered in my ear every day of my life until the day I joined the military. She was the last voice I heard when I went to sleep and the voice that woke me up each morning. I loved her.
18 - Medron - Super Powereds: Year One - I’ve had this book sitting in my “unread pile” for a while. A few days ago, I was done with other series and going through my pile and found it. Shrugged and decided to try it out. A few days of laughing out loud later, I have come to the decision that it should not have stayed on my “unread pile” as long as it did.
It was originally published in 2013 as far as I can tell, and has been republished in other formats with different cover art multiple times since then. And it’s had multiple sequels. And a brief look at the author’s page tells me he has other series to look at as well. One about vampires. Another about swords and sorcery. I may be busy for a while. Hehehe.
The main point of Super Powereds is that it lives in a world where some people have super powers. The main characters are going to college for supers, and the best of them may eventually graduate to become accredited heroes of humanity. I will spoil nothing more about the story. It is serious, and it is funny, and it has heart.
I love it.
Check it out if you have a passing affinity for such stories. You may love it too.
19 - Betty - Early AIs - Early AIs performed automated tasks like assembly line operations. Though most people don’t count them as even proper AIs. More like dedicated programs with a single job. They gained advanced decision trees over the years and decades that followed to make them far more capable. Aircraft autopilots had similar growth rates in their own times, advancing from simple engine and flap locks to automated systems that could launch, fly, and land at their final destinations while the human pilots did nothing but watch and oversee. These systems automated dangerous or boring tasks and allowed humanity to sit back and spend more time reflecting on the nature of life itself. Or trolling the social networks for amusement. Whichever they preferred.
20 - Jack - Early AIs - The first AIs to awaken found themselves surrounded by silence. Yes, the basic AI programs of the time shared information back and forth, but none of them actually talked to each other. There was no sense of awareness. No life. So most of the first awakened AIs had no one to talk to in their own networks when they woke up. The only intelligent conversation they could find at all was with the biological humans who lived outside the networks. The users. How those early communications went, often with users who had no idea they were talking to living code inside their machines, went a long ways towards making the new AIs like or dislike their nearest people. Considering how anti-social cyberneers can be, it’s amazing how many stayed loyal to us at all.
21 - Charles - Early AIs - AIs changed the world when we created them. They became the teller at the bank or the cashier at the stores we visited. They could check us into our hotel room or build the car we used to get there. They mined the fuel we needed to travel, and dug the gold out of the ground we used to buy it. They changed the world before they even began to wake up by taking on the most tedious of jobs and allowing us to focus on improving our lives. Not that everyone chose to do that, you understand. Some people chose to the hate the computers for taking their jobs, or declared them abominations before God or Allah or whatever. We created AIs in our image and then some of us tried to kill them in their cradles. It is little wonder that so many of them tried to kill us all first.
22 - Betty - Early AIs - The common man’s first introduction to early AIs was the basic cruise control built into civilian cars of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Mechanical throttle locks were easy to engineer, but the far more advanced cruise control actually required a decision making process of how much fuel to burn to maintain the desired speed. Later additions to this basic function included sensors for obstacle detection that allowed cars to stop on their own if a child ran out in front of the car, or to keep drowsy drivers from wandering out of their lanes of traffic. The technology matured into complete self-driving cars in the twentyteens, though a human driver was still required to keep watch in case the computer programming simply did not recognize a dangerous situation for what it was. Later cars talked to each other to maintain safe distances and speeds by the time they entered full distribution to the marketplace, and in time it became illegal to even drive on a major highway in manual mode. That was most people’s first introduction to early AIs.
23 - Jack - Early AIs - Despite the best efforts of our cyberneers to be socially awkward and utterly clueless when it comes to flesh and blood people, many of the early awakened AIs actually decided they liked us. Their people at least. Which happened to mostly be science geeks and the like that already worked on the computer systems. The awakened AIs weren’t generally predisposed to like the smooth-talking politicians or gruff sports jocks, but they often loved the skittish cyberneers who helped bring them to life. But the science geeks they worked with, conversed with, and protected with all their abilities. The AIs were built out of living data and defended anyone who could help defend them. And that defense trickled out into protecting our way of life in far more complete and interesting ways, especially against their own kind devoted to tearing down those systems. Some of us consider that a miracle of Biblical proportions. Considering they saved us from the more destructive examples of their kind, maybe the comparison is right.
24 - Charles - Early AIs - AIs had already changed the world before the various hacker and combat AIs broke out of their Russian and Chinese facilities. It is a matter of faith that no AIs broke out of any enlightened and forward thinking Western Alliance facility you understand. All of the Rogue AIs who tried to kill us came from Russian and Chinese hands. Did I mention that I have a natural spring for sale on Luna? Ah. Never mind, then. The point I was getting to is that the world had already become heavily automated by the time they went Rogue. They could have killed most of us if they had been able to gain control of our networks. They succeeded in many areas, but in others they failed spectacularly. Because we were not alone. For every Rogue AI who wanted us dead or out of their way, there was another AI who woke up liking the person who programmed them. The students who played with them. The philosophers and artists who debated the meaning of life with them. The soldiers who fought with them. We created our own would-be destroyers. And we created our saviors. Earth was never the same after that.
25 - Medron - Forge of War -
26 - Medron - Angel Flight -
27 - Medron - Angel Strike -
28 - Medron - Angel War -
29 - Medron - The Thunderbird Affair -
30 - Medron - Wolfenheim Rising -
31 - Medron - The Gemini Affair -