Saturday, April 30, 2016

Banshee 4.5: Alliances

A pretty good Banshee 4.5 last night, featuring a series of important alliances and one surprise killing, all of which will have impact on the continuing story.

Probably the most propitious is the alliance between Proctor and Hood, after Proctor burns down Hood's house in the woods.  Proctor's entitled, I guess, seeing as how Hood reneged on his promise not to bed Rebecca, though who other than Proctor could blame him.  But it makes perfect sense that Proctor would want Hood on the case now, and reporting to Proctor, the minute the killer comes into view.

This complicates the other good alliance of the evening, Hood and Veronica.   Proctor wants Hood to bring the serial killer to him, and not leave the killer in the hands of the FBI.  Obviously Proctor wants to do more to this monstrosity than just kill him.  Presumably Veronica would have other ideas - though you never know, given her unconventional ways.

But speaking of monstrous, that neo-Nazi Randall just released from prison was a vicious piece of work, and it was good to see Calvin suddenly kill him, after Randall threatened, taunted, and ridiculed Calvin, and stirred up the crowd, and Brock prevailed upon Kurt not to sniper-shoot him in the head.   The upshot is that Calvin is pretty tough after all, and may be harder to beat than his late brutal father-in-law.

Job is back to his reassuring looks and self, and tells Hood an interesting piece of news about Carrie that I don't recall before this: she's determined to avenge her husband's death and blames Proctor for it.  This puts another complication in Hood's alliance with Proctor - not really an alliance, I guess, but something like that.   Fortunately for Proctor, Clay seems to be in the best, most astute shape we've ever seen him.

Banshee has always been about complications, and they're piling up quite well in this final season.

See also Banshee Season 4 Debut: Whunnit? ... Banshee 4.2: Carrie and Rebecca ... Banshee 4.3: Serial Killers and Theories

And see also Banshee 3.1: Taking Stock ... Banshee 3.2: Women in Charge ...Banshee 3.3: Burton vs. Nola ... Banshee 3.4: Burton and Rebecca ... Banshee 3.5: Almost the Alamo ...  Banshee 3.6: Perfect What-If Bookends ... Banshee 3.7: Movie with Movie ... Banshee 3.8: What Did Rebecca Find with Burton? ... Banshee 3.9: Loyalty ... Banshee Season 3 Finale: Subtractions and Additions

Like crime stories that involve the Amish? Try The Silk Code


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum

One of the perennially vexing problems for the time traveler - and especially enjoyable for the reader or viewer - is how does the time traveler have memories of what the time traveler changed in a trip to the past?   We need the time traveler to have these memories, otherwise she or he would have no idea what was going on.   This problem is a less severe version of the grandparent paradox - how can the time traveler exist and travel to the past if that travel prevented his grandparents from meeting and making love - and requires less extreme solutions, like universes in which the time traveler does and does not exist.   But the problem of knowledge of what you changed by a trip to the past needs to be addressed in some way.

What I do in my time travel stories is just stipulate that the ver act of time travel preserves all memories for the time traveler.  So, if I travel to the past and change some important event, I have memories of what the world was like, what history will be, both before and after the change.   Postulating that kind of time traveler, who has one foot on the shore and one in the changing river of of time, and therefore two or more sets of memories, seems no more incredible than the time travel itself.

12 Monkeys used a nice variation of this approach in episode 2.2 last night.  We learn that the serum that the time travelers take, to inoculate themselves, to some extent, from the psychological ravages of the time travel, preserves their original memories, before the effects of the time time travel.  But the time traveler has no knowledge of what the world is now like as a result of the time travel, and therefore must now set out to learn what's going in this new world.

12 Monkeys did an excellent job of this last night.   First, it had the nerve to have our time travelers actually make a profound change in history - something you don't often see in time travel stories, certainly not in such a clear-cut way.  But Cole and Railly do manage to stop the plague from being unleashed in 2016, and thanks to Cole's persuasion, without killing Jennifer and Ramse.   The new world they've created is thus eminently logically and fits the narrative well:  the plague has not been eliminated, just postponed, and but now destined to be not quite as severe as in the original reality. This has the good effect leaving Ramse's son alive, but giving all of our heroes except him a big reason to keep on the mission: stopping the new, slightly less destructive, but still plenty deadly plague.

And Ramse's not the only one with benefits in this new world.  Katrina discovers she has a lover, which is always good to see and have, though she (of course) is at first a little nonplussed about this. The focus now shifts to 1944, a room rented for perpetuity in a seedy hotel - always a nice touch - and Jennifer finding her "purpose" in the future in this slightly different tableau for the new season. Since we the audience are like Cole, Railly, and Katrina in not knowing what this future holds, I'm looking forward to seeing it unfold.

See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be

And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys

 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg
 photo lastcalls-thumb_zps0e5aro8w.jpeg photo LooseEnds-series.png_zpsvr6q50f0.jpeg
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?

The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~


Monday, April 25, 2016

Game of Thrones 6.1: Where Are the Dragons?

A feast-for-the-mind all-you-can-eat season 6 debut of Game of Thrones earlier tonight, with more bases covered than in just about any other single episode I can recall.

Also with lots of new questions raised, the most significant, I think, being: what happened to  Daenerys's dragons?  Why would they be absent from their mother in such a time of need?  Is this part of some master plan of hers? Possibly, but it doesn't look like that, and, if it is, she's cutting it pretty close.

Meanwhile, though the best conversation in this episode was among the Dothraki about their captive, the best action scene by far in this hour is Brienne riding into the scene and saving Sansa, with Theon's help.   It's good to see a chivalrous knight in shining armor coming to the rescue, and if Brienne's garb wasn't quite shining, she was at her knightly best, the veritable Lancelot in this story.

The biggest twist - and, again, I haven't read more than the very first novel in this series, so everything other than Ned Stark's death is new to me - so the biggest surprise for me tonight was how the Red Woman turned white, in other words, very old.   What's not clear is whether she's taking to her bed at the end to die - I don't think so - or just for a tossed night's sleep?   Will she put her charmed jewelry back on in the morning, and regain her fire and power, or will she turn into so much more snow before too long?

And speaking of which ... Jon has definitely been pronounced dead, but with the possible proviso that the "flames" aka the Red Woman (I assume) might say otherwise, at least according to Davos, who seems pretty savvy. But also missing in action is Bran - in fact, he's been missing for at least a year now, did I somehow miss his death, I don't think so - and if I recall correctly he had some magical powers, too, maybe even some truck with the dead, so maybe he can revive Jon.

But probably not.  Getting back to Ned, one thing about Game of Thrones is dead is usually dead, and I'm looking forward to more surprises among the living this season.

See also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table ... Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death ... Game of Thrones 5.9: Dragon in Action; Sickening Scene with Stannis ... Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Punishment

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads

And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me


"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Outlander 2.3: Mother and Dr. Dog

A more low-key than usual Outlander 2.3 last night, but still very satisfying. We've seen Claire apply her medical knowledge from the future many times before, but this time featured a new character, Mother Hildegarde, and her intrepid dog Bouton, literally sniffing out illness at the hospital.

This is a very well constructed little narrative, that takes full advantage of the centuries.  We know in the 21st century that dogs can definitely be trained to use their noses to point out disease of all kind in humans.  This was not known - certainly not in any widespread way - in the 1940s, Claire's original time.  She thus shows suitable surprise when Bouton finds the hidden infection back in the 1700s, while we the audience understand and appreciate instantly what has happened.

Mother Hildegarde also strikes me as someone who will have more relevance to this story than just in the hospital.   Like some of the women Claire encountered back in Scotland, something about Hildegarde suggests she knows more than just medicine, and may indeed be involved or will be in time travel of some sort.

The other good part of last night's episode features Claire and Mary Hawkins, whom Claire realizes will bear at least one child from Black Jack, whom she now knows is alive, which will eventually lead to Frank.   She realizes that of course that has to happen - Black Jack alive and marrying and impregnating Mary - otherwise how could Frank have existed at all in the 20th century?

And this brings us face to face, once again, with the famous grandfather paradox (which could also be a grandmother paradox) which is so much fun and so fundamental to time travel.  If I do something to prevent my grandparents from meeting in the past, I would no longer exist in the present, so how could I have traveled back to the past in the first place?  Claire's situation is analogous if not quite as extreme.   If she did something to prevent Black Jack and Mary from having a child,  how could she have been married to Frank in the 1940s in the first place?

One way out of this is that the universe, intent on keeping its history in tact, won't allow me to prevent my grandparents from meeting, or Claire from getting in the way of Black Jack and Mary.   Another way is the alternate universe solution:  Paul Levinson1 (PL1) from Universe1 travels back in time and prevents his grandparents from meeting.  This creates Universe2, in which PL2 doesn't exist.  But that's no problem, since PL1 not PL2 is the one who did the time travel.

It will be interesting to see which course of action Claire et al take in Outlander.  It's good to see the story on the edge of this swirling paradox.

See also Outlander 2.1: Split Hour ... Outlander 2.2: The King and the Forest

And see also Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel ... Outlander 1.6:  Outstanding ... Outlander 1.7: Tender Intertemporal Polygamy ...Outlander 1.8: The Other Side ... Outlander 1.9: Spanking Good ... Outlander 1.10: A Glimmer of Paradox ... Outlander 1.11: Vaccination and Time Travel ... Outlander 1.12: Black Jack's Progeny ...Outlander 1.13: Mother's Day ... Outlander 1.14: All That Jazz ... Outlander Season 1 Finale: Let's Change History

Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel


Friday, April 22, 2016

Vikings 4.10: "God Bless Paris"

Vikings ended the first part of its 4th season last night with a brilliant episode that ended one story and opened up another.

The Paris story has been my favorite, as I've said many times, every since it began last year.  Last night pitted Rollo at his civilized/savage best against Ragnar, not as his best, with two brave, powerful forces.   Without Rollo, the French would have lost.  With Rollo, the French just manage to get a victory, but one which sends the Vikings - or the Vikings not French - back to Scandinavia.

The point is that Rollo is still a Viking deep down, even as he has wholeheartedly accepted that he must be the one to defend the French.  That's what love of a woman, more than love of a civilization, did for Rollo.   But no Frenchman would have put a sword though his second-in-command, who dared to suggest retreat.  That sword was pure Viking.   And our knowing that makes Rollo's "God Bless Paris," delivered in Latin, bloodied, and barely able to stand, all the more impressive.

Meanwhile, and years later, the introduction of Ragnar's sons as young adults was great to see.   Ragnar's apparent reclamation of his authority, after he returns from years of unexplained absence, was also one of the best scenes in the series.

Questions remain for the second part of the season.   What happened to Lagertha, badly wounded as she attempted to come to Ragnar's help, as Rollo was beginning to get the better of him?   What's the story in England, with Ecbert moving into an ever more powerful position?   There are hints of what's to come, with Bjorn calling upon Floki to help get to the Mediterranean.   And, of course, history tells us that the Vikings will reach Iceland, Greenland, and North America, as well.

Lots of great stories ahead.  I'm looking forward to this superb series taking its time and years and years to tell them.

See also Vikings 4.1: I'll Still Take Paris ... Vikings 4.2: Sacred Texts ...Vikings 4.4: Speaking the Language ... Vikings 4.5: Knives ... Vikings 4.8: Ships Up Cliff

And see also Vikings 3.1. Fighting and Farming ... Vikings 3.2: Leonard Nimoy ...Vikings 3.3: We'll Always Have Paris ... Vikings 3.4: They Call Me the Wanderer ... Vikings 3.5: Massacre ... Vikings 3.6: Athelstan and Floki ...Vikings 3.7: At the Gates ... Vikings 3.8: Battle for Paris ... Vikings 3.9: The Conquered ... Vikings Season 3 Finale: Normandy

And see also Vikings 2.1-2: Upping the Ante of Conquest ... Vikings 2.4: Wise King ... Vikings 2.5: Caught in the Middle ... Vikings 2.6: The Guardians ...Vikings 2.7: Volatile Mix ... Vikings 2.8: Great Post-Apocalyptic Narrative ... Vikings Season 2 Finale: Satisfying, Surprising, Superb

And see also Vikings ... Vikings 1.2: Lindisfarne ... Vikings 1.3: The Priest ... Vikings 1.4:  Twist and Testudo ... Vikings 1.5: Freud and Family ... Vikings 1.7: Religion and Battle ... Vikings 1.8: Sacrifice
... Vikings Season 1 Finale: Below the Ash

historical science fiction - a little further back in time


The Americans 4.6: Martha, Martha, Martha

There have been three unbelievable things at work on The Americans -

1.  Elizabeth and Philip happen to live next door to Stan, who is FBI.

2.  Paige told the pastor that her parents are spies.

3.  Philip is pretending to be Martha's husband, with the thinnest disguise possible.   Martha works in the same FBI office as Stan.

My late science fiction editor, David Hartwell, always said that readers will allow one unbelievable aspect in a story, but their willing suspension of disbelief will break down if there's more than one. Audiences are of course the equivalent of readers.   Let's say Stan living next door is the one unbelievable element that the audience is willing to accept in The Americans.  The still leaves us two.

The Paige story has been handled this season, but clumsily.   It's not yet resolved, though, so there's hope for a resolution more satisfying than what we've seen.

Episode 4.6 at long last got down to Martha.   Again, it's amazing that it took so long for the FBI to catch on to what she was doing, and that Stan didn't run into Philip in disguise at some point, but now that the twisted yarn is finally unraveling, it's going to pieces well.   I can believe that Philip can't just kill Martha because he loves her on some level.  And that Elizabeth can't do it, either, out of her feelings for Philip, strange as that might seem.   Gabriel, however, is likely subject to no such decisive emotional restriction - though he is in some synch with Philip and Elizabeth - and it will be interesting to see what role he ultimately plays in the fate of Martha.

And our FBI men, now that they've finally seen what Martha has been doing, are moving with all deliberate alacrity.   The episode ends with Martha on the street, letting Gabriel know that she knows her "husband" is KGB, and the FBI just one step away.

Good ingredients for next week, and for the rest of this season and beyond.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be Will Be

12 Monkeys was back with the debut of its second season on Monday, with an all-together excellent episode which hit all kinds of bases.

Probably the single most important was the revelation, near the beginning, that there's a recalcitrance of the universe - or at very least, life on Earth - which resists changes in history brought about by time travel.   If you have to kill someone who was on some higher level meant to live, then that death won't happen - one way or another, that person will live.  Or, someone else will do what the deceased was supposed or meant to do.

The problem, of course, is knowing what this ultimate, unchangeable course of world history really is.   Presumably not just what some character claims it to be.   That leads to excitement and dramatic tension, even in a universe in which changes in time can be meaningless.

We have all kinds of incidents in which this principle is well expressed in 12 Monkeys 2.1.   Cole can't just kill Jennifer point black, even to stop the plague from being released.  Is this because he knows or senses on some level that the universe doesn't want the plague to happen, and will stop it by some other means?  Ramse can't bring himself to abandon Cole in Cole's attempt to stop the plague, even though no plague means no son for Ramse in the plague-torn future.   Is this because Ramse feels deep down that his son will somehow be born, anyway, without the apocalypse?

Railly presumably has not gotten this message - she is, after all, a scientist, not a metaphysician - and this leads her to confront Cole, gun drawn, in her single-minded intention at the end of the episode to kill Jennifer.   The confrontation is a great touch, not only because we last saw Jennifer in the 2040s, with Jones and her estimate that the time machine could take as long as a year to repair, but because the guns-drawn confrontation is symbolic of the conflict between philosophy and science that runs through the series.

Railly's sudden appearance is also nice because it exemplifies another underlying truth of time travel - one which I use in many of my time-travel stories - to wit, it doesn't matter how long it takes for something to happen, including building a time machine in the first place, or anything else before the actual time travel, because you can arrive a split-second, if you like, before or after the time you want to travel to, in the past or the future.  You can do this, in other words, however long it took you to make the decision and attain the means to do it.

Ain't time travel grand?  Indeed it is, and it's good to have 12 Monkeys back at it in such good form again.

See also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"

And see also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3:  Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"

podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys

 three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy

 photo LateLessons1_zpsogsvk12k.jpg

 photo lastcalls-thumb_zps0e5aro8w.jpeg photo LooseEnds-series.png_zpsvr6q50f0.jpeg

What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?

The Chronology Protection Case movie 

~~~ +++ ~~~