The 3 Body Problem // Cixin Liu [Thoughts + Spoilers]

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Plot: The Cultural Revolution is laid out for 50 pages and characters that no one knows nor cares about die/suffer. The only one left standing is a woman who will eventually sell out humans to aliens living in the Alpha Centauri System [off-camera]. In modern times, a scientist/nanotech engineer[?] called Wang forgets his family so he can focus on a video game called The Three Body Problem. It’s not a hard game, not as hard as the original Mega Man, and he quickly comes across the alien plot to take over Earth. Luckily, it will take 400 years for the aliens to arrive. Unluckily, they’ve invented nine dimensional protons that fly to Earth and do their best Stasi impression, which in effect limits humans to doing nothing scientifically for the next 400 years, which in turn will allow the aliens to land on Earth and do what?

Subplot: Disregarding the blurb on the back of the cover, 100 odd pages are dedicated to flashbacks of the traitor scientist figuring out how to send a signal to aliens without telling us that’s what she’s doing even though we know that’s what she’s doing cos we’ve read the blurb on the back cover.

Subplot: Wang’s wife asks for a divorce.

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The above summary of the plot may come across as negative, but I enjoyed about half of this book, especially the parts focused on the video game and the three body aliens themselves.

However, it takes a long while to get there.

The biggest problem is definitely the opening 50 pages or so. If you’re gonna write a sci-fi book that starts with some historical context, at least write it well. Or organise it well. Or make it involving, either emotionally or concept-wise. What Liu has done is write a succession of scenes that involve characters we don’t get to know at all and then kill them off. Continue reading

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Blake the leader of men

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Sashimi?

Not until free men can think and ski

Crawl inside the walls

Check on Avon

 

Follow sandy occultists on twitter

Halve Jenna

Break into sewage plant

Push idea

 

Send Callie to the sex moon don’t let her invent things

Rotate Servelan

Fumigate

Self-publish

Cover with tits.

 

Continue reading

Blake’s 7 [Redux] // S01E03 – Cygnus Alpha

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Trying to phase out the sleaze, but it keeps creeping back…

If you can’t be bothered checking the categories at the side, here’s where the other Blake’s 7 reduxes are:

The Way Back

Space Fall

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EXT: SURFACE OF PENAL COLONY, CYGNUS ALPHA

A man dressed like a monk raises a machete and chops a cooked animal in half. There’s a noise nearby and a woman also dressed like a monk appears, telling the man that the federation ship has arrived in the sky.

‘That shooting star up there?’

‘It’s a big ship.’

‘Well-lit, too.’

‘’tis true.’

The man frowns, wondering if any of the new prisoners are either a] bigger than him or b] sexier than him.

‘I guess I’ll leave dinner here and go tell Brian Blessed that the new prisoners have arrived.’

‘The new believers…’ corrects the woman.

‘Huh?’

‘They are believers, not prisoners.’

‘Right. What is it we believe again?’

‘Indulging Brian Blessed.’

The man rubs his nose bridge. ‘He did the Iago monologue last night.’

‘Soft then loud but never really soft?’

The man nods. ‘As if I  were at the back row of a stadium.’

‘You did the Lord’s work. Now go.’

‘Going.’

The woman swishes her hand leftwards and the man trots off in that direction. After staring up at the sky for a bit, the woman walks the opposite way, off the quarry set and straight into a barrage of ‘show us your crystal balls, luv.’

She shakes it off, reminding herself over and over that it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.

 

INT: PENAL SHIP COCKPIT, SAME ONE FROM SPACE FALL

The young lieutenant walks through a door with Flight Control Deck stencilled on it and tells the captain that the prisoners are all high as fuck and looking forward to Cygnus Alpha. Continue reading

Yeltsin Speaks Cantonese// the logic of messing up unexpected questions

It’s been about five days since the last dinner with the in-laws, but they were in the area to get their fingerprints done for the new HKID card, so off we went to the nearby shabu shabu place.

Shabu Shabu = 90 minutes of hot pot, all you can eat and drink

Unfortunately, I was the one who went ahead to get the ticket. Usually, when this happens, I’ll ask the staff in Cantonese how long we have to wait for a table or do they have a table straight away, but this time they sucker punched me with a ‘how long…’ question of their own.

Jung yau gei loi do?

Gei loi is ‘how long’, jung yau is something like ‘still have’, and do is a short way to say ‘arrive’…so I could understand what was said, the problem was, what did it mean?

My brain ran through the logical options: how long until the other people in your group arrive, how long are you willing to wait for a table, how long have you been in Hong Kong, how long does it take to arrive in places generally…

But none of them seemed to fit, so I replied, ‘gei loi meh?’[how long for what?] which was probably quite rude, but I didn’t have a clue what they were saying.

They said the same thing again, I stared back at them blankly, and then the ultimate frustration…a guy standing nearby stepped in and translated for me. They want to know how long your friends will take to arrive, he said.

Ah, that makes sense. Continue reading

Blake’s 7 [Redux] // S01E02 – Space Fall

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It’s been a while, but you can find the first episode redux [The Way Back] here

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INT: SPACESHIP/BBC STOREROOM, ONE CIRCULAR WINDOW TO SHOW BLACKNESS OF SPACE, LOTS OF CONVICTS SITTING ON CLASSROOM CHAIRS, NO TATTOOS

Blake sits with his back to the window, restrained by a piece of ribbed plastic tubing curving round his torso.

He surveys the convicts in front of him.

‘Who wants to join my crew?’

Half of them raise their hands.

‘Who knows how to act?’

Hands drop.

‘Okay. Jenna, Vila, Gan, young-looking student.’

Young looking student grins. ‘Hi, I’m…’

‘Should be enough.’

 

SWITCH TO: SHIP COCKPIT/DRIVE ROOM/BRIDGE/ROOM WITH 3 CHAIRS AND CARDBOARD CONTROL PANELS

An old-ish guy tells his crew of two to say some random numbers and set course for Cygnus Alpha. They repeat the numbers for a few seconds then the youngest crew member, we’ll give him the rank of lieutenant, goes back to the book he was studying. Continue reading

Araminta Spookie in Cantonese [via Taiwan]

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My wife says translations into Chinese are always a bit weird, but I liked the cover of this one and the first person voice, so I took it out.

In Hong Kong, you can renew a book 5 times at the library before they send Joaquin Phoenix after you. I think I renewed this one 4 times. Actually, I didn’t finish the first one, I got side-tracked by another book, maybe 3 Body Problem or Virgin of the 7 Daggers, but the second one hooked me a bit more and, despite a few troughs, I got through it.

Then I got through book 3, the one where their neighbour steals their frogs without getting punished for it at the end, and now I’m on book 4.

Each book starts at a gentle pace, with Araminta wandering around the mansion, either looking for a relative, looking for a ghost, looking for a secret door, looking for Uncle Drac’s old Shannon Tweed vids.

The voice is quite natural, and I can pick up a lot of good phrases, though half of them aren’t used in spoken Cantonese. Some of them are Taiwanese, too, as that’s the place it’s aimed at/translated for.

There’s about 17 different ways to say ‘usually’ and ‘even if’, I’m not sure why. Some of the ‘even if’ words double as ‘although’ or ‘even’, a lot of it is situational in Cantonese, and of course a lot of them you wouldn’t say in conversation. The trick is knowing which is which, and the supplementary trick is being able to not mix them up. Continue reading

Not Another Mishima

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Gena Rowlands met with the scientists somewhere near Almeria, Southern Spain. She didn’t know this but they were the same scientists who’d brought back Pol Pot, the same scientists who’d predicted genocide holes = long distance space travel and the same scientists who would one day put the mind of a Japanese student into the body of an English lit student/gym instructor.

It was 1989.

‘Here’s what I want,’ said Gena, checking her watch. ‘My husband, John…you know him? He’s a director…was a director…he did Shadows and Faces and…Gloria. No? Doesn’t matter. The point is…what I want is my husband, alive again, via science.’

The scientists muttered something in Spanish.

‘I know, he’s dead. But only just. I mean, it happened a few weeks ago. But that doesn’t matter, right? From what I’ve heard of you guys, the science you can do, that doesn’t matter. Does it?’

The scientists nodded.

‘Cool. That’s cool. So the point is, what I want is…’ Gena paused, realising she’d said this part already. ‘Okay, you know what I want. Bring John back. My husband, bring him back to me.’

The scientists looked at each other.

‘You can do that, can’t you?’ Gena said, lighting up a cigarette. ‘I mean, I’m not just talking to a bunch of fucking actors here…am I?’

The lead scientist broke off from the others and led Gena to another part of the desert twenty metres away.

‘We can do it, of course. Explanations, however, are a different matter. Science is…it’s very complicated, the methods are…perhaps not so easy for you to understand.’

Gena breathed smoke on his jacket. ‘Try me.’ Continue reading