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In the Beginning (Babylon 5)In the Beginning by Peter David

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm not a Peter David fan. Oh, I've read a few of his books, but I consider him to be a workmanlike author rather than an artist. Of course, I also consider him to be a newcomer, since I respect very few post-1980 authors (exactly three, in fact: Brust, Brin, and Watt-Evans).

But In the Beginning is surprisingly well-written. It was shot in the dark for me, quite literally; I don't remember where I'd originally picked it up, but I'm sure I didn't buy it new (the pencil marking inside says $2.95). It was late at night, I desperately needed something to read, and I'd just turned off the light in the den; it was pitch-black. So for a lark, I pushed aside the books in the outer layer of one of my bookshelves (I'm terribly short of shelf space), and pulled out a book at random from the row of books behind.

Now, I must admit up front that I was a big fan of Babylon 5. In fact, it was the last show that I would call myself a "fan" of; I think I got too old for the fan phenomenon after that. But from seasons 1-4 I was a big fan, and even wrote a one-shot zine for a Babylon 5 APA (amateur press association, a collection of zines on a topic).*

Anyway, I have to say that Peter David captured the voice of the narrator, Londo Mollari, extremely well. I could hear the voice just as Peter Jurasik performed it while I was reading it. I don't know if someone who isn't familiar with the show itself would get the same enjoyment out of the book, therefore.

In any case, I'd call it a successful novelization; it captured the plot and essence of the broadcast show extremely well. There was only one jarring note. On page 75, there's a line:
Indeed, the gravity on the Babylon 5 space station was achieved entirely through a steady rotation, the same as that on any planet.

Perhaps Peter David only meant to say that planets have a steady rotation, but it certainly seems as if he's saying that centrifugal (or is it centripetal?) force is the source of gravitation on planets - and of course, that's absolutely wrong! If planetary gravity was caused by rotation, everything not fastened to the planetary crust would be flung into space. Could a modern science fiction author really be that ignorant of basic physics? I have to wonder!

All in all, though, an enjoyable read. I was tempted to give it four stars. But if you're not a B5 fan, you're probably more likely to consider it a 3-star work.

----------
* - I'm not sure if this link will work, but if it does here's a link to that zine: http://www.maranci.net/babble-on5.pdf . It has been annotated from a years-later perspective.



View all my reviews
bobquasit: (Default)
In the Beginning (Babylon 5)In the Beginning by Peter David

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm not a Peter David fan. Oh, I've read a few of his books, but I consider him to be a workmanlike author rather than an artist. Of course, I also consider him to be a newcomer, since I respect very few post-1980 authors (exactly three, in fact: Brust, Brin, and Watt-Evans).

But In the Beginning is surprisingly well-written. It was shot in the dark for me, quite literally; I don't remember where I'd originally picked it up, but I'm sure I didn't buy it new (the pencil marking inside says $2.95). It was late at night, I desperately needed something to read, and I'd just turned off the light in the den; it was pitch-black. So for a lark, I pushed aside the books in the outer layer of one of my bookshelves (I'm terribly short of shelf space), and pulled out a book at random from the row of books behind.

Now, I must admit up front that I was a big fan of Babylon 5. In fact, it was the last show that I would call myself a "fan" of; I think I got too old for the fan phenomenon after that. But from seasons 1-4 I was a big fan, and even wrote a one-shot zine for a Babylon 5 APA (amateur press association, a collection of zines on a topic).*

Anyway, I have to say that Peter David captured the voice of the narrator, Londo Mollari, extremely well. I could hear the voice just as Peter Jurasik performed it while I was reading it. I don't know if someone who isn't familiar with the show itself would get the same enjoyment out of the book, therefore.

In any case, I'd call it a successful novelization; it captured the plot and essence of the broadcast show extremely well. There was only one jarring note. On page 75, there's a line:
Indeed, the gravity on the Babylon 5 space station was achieved entirely through a steady rotation, the same as that on any planet.

Perhaps Peter David only meant to say that planets have a steady rotation, but it certainly seems as if he's saying that centrifugal (or is it centripetal?) force is the source of gravitation on planets - and of course, that's absolutely wrong! If planetary gravity was caused by rotation, everything not fastened to the planetary crust would be flung into space. Could a modern science fiction author really be that ignorant of basic physics? I have to wonder!

All in all, though, an enjoyable read. I was tempted to give it four stars. But if you're not a B5 fan, you're probably more likely to consider it a 3-star work.

----------
* - I'm not sure if this link will work, but if it does here's a link to that zine: http://www.maranci.net/babble-on5.pdf . It has been annotated from a years-later perspective.



View all my reviews
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been bored, and World of Warcraft sucks - I'm pretty much being ganked by the Horde three or four times a day now - so I watched some stuff on Netflix. Just for the heck of it, today I watched an old episode of Columbo, "The Greenhouse Jungle" from season 2. You know, it was surprisingly good! So I looked up some of the actors. I thought the villain was being played by Carl Reiner, but it turned out to be Ray Milland. Two of the actresses in the show surprised me; one of them was the actress who played T'Pring on Star Trek (the original series, of course). As a blonde, she was totally unrecognizable! Another actress had also appeared Star Trek; she was the villain in the final episode, "Turnabout Intruder", and has the distinction of also being the only person other than William Shatner to play James T. Kirk in the original series.

God, I'm such a geek!
bobquasit: (Default)
I've been bored, and World of Warcraft sucks - I'm pretty much being ganked by the Horde three or four times a day now - so I watched some stuff on Netflix. Just for the heck of it, today I watched an old episode of Columbo, "The Greenhouse Jungle" from season 2. You know, it was surprisingly good! So I looked up some of the actors. I thought the villain was being played by Carl Reiner, but it turned out to be Ray Milland. Two of the actresses in the show surprised me; one of them was the actress who played T'Pring on Star Trek (the original series, of course). As a blonde, she was totally unrecognizable! Another actress had also appeared Star Trek; she was the villain in the final episode, "Turnabout Intruder", and has the distinction of also being the only person other than William Shatner to play James T. Kirk in the original series.

God, I'm such a geek!
bobquasit: (Default)
We watched an episode of The Greatest American Hero tonight via Netflix on the Wii. Unfortunately the pilot isn't available for streaming, for some reason.

I was a fan of the show when it was on, but I'd forgotten how good it was! And what really surprised me was how much it reminded me of another of my favorites, The Rockford Files. But that's not surprising, in hindsight; it's a Stephen J. Cannell show, and a lot of the people from Rockford worked on it. Heck, even the theme is by Mike Post! There's really quite a Rockford feel to it.

Interesting thing: There's also a bit of a Sopranos feel to it! Many of the people who worked on Rockford also worked on the Sopranos. All three shows definitely share a similar "feel" and lineage.
bobquasit: (Default)
We watched an episode of The Greatest American Hero tonight via Netflix on the Wii. Unfortunately the pilot isn't available for streaming, for some reason.

I was a fan of the show when it was on, but I'd forgotten how good it was! And what really surprised me was how much it reminded me of another of my favorites, The Rockford Files. But that's not surprising, in hindsight; it's a Stephen J. Cannell show, and a lot of the people from Rockford worked on it. Heck, even the theme is by Mike Post! There's really quite a Rockford feel to it.

Interesting thing: There's also a bit of a Sopranos feel to it! Many of the people who worked on Rockford also worked on the Sopranos. All three shows definitely share a similar "feel" and lineage.
bobquasit: (Default)
Robert Novak is dead.

I was having a bad day, but this news brightens it a little. As, I would imagine, it has brightened his - or would, if there was a hell.
bobquasit: (Default)
Robert Novak is dead.

I was having a bad day, but this news brightens it a little. As, I would imagine, it has brightened his - or would, if there was a hell.
bobquasit: (Default)
We finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week. Sebastian enjoyed it very much. So we started right in on The Silver Chair. That has been going very well, too.

The library has a DVD of the British TV series of The Chronicles of Narnia, or at least the first three discs (which cover Lion, Caspian, Voyage, and Chair). We watched the first disc, and well...it was pretty silly. The special effects were awfully cheesy, but that was pretty much to be expected. The pacing was much slower than the movie, of course, and Teri was bored out of her mind; but that was to be expected too (Sebastian wasn't bored at all).

But what got to me was the terrible British overacting. When a British actor is good they're outstanding, but when they're bad they're terrible. And there were a lot of actors in The Lion who were just painfully bad. "Bellowing scene-chewers" seems the best way to describe them. The Witch, in particular, was like a black hole of bad acting. She kept trying to shout her lines louder and louder, and it was simply awful.

When I was in [livejournal.com profile] stairflight's production of Romeo and Juliet, some of the other actors urged me to shout more to show that I was angry. I refused. I knew damned well that you can often convey far more anger in a softer voice, and that constantly screaming your lines can be surprisingly ineffective.

Eventually the bad acting got to me. I cracked and started MSTing (that is, commenting on the action MST3K-style). When the Witch's face was on the scream, I dubbed for her "I need some more TOILET PAPER!!!" with the requisite hamminess and eye-rolling. Sebastian completely cracked up, and made me say it again and again for the next two days.

Aslan was quite amusing too. For one thing, he was obviously stuffed. His mouth movements weren't synchronized with his words. So when he was on his way to the Stone Table to be sacrificed by the Witch, and Lucy asked him what was going to happen, I emoted "She's going to cut out my STUFFING!!!". More wild laughter from Sebastian. Ah, the fun. :D

The show of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is far less silly. The sea-serpent actually scared Sebastian a little (lots of spiky teeth). The effects were better, as was the acting. In The Lion talking animals were played (painfully) by people wearing costumes, and other creatures were portrayed with quite amateurish cartoon effects; in Voyage there was only one talking animal, Reepicheep, and although he was played by a (little person? Is that the correct term?), he was relatively well-played and not too irritating.
bobquasit: (Default)
We finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week. Sebastian enjoyed it very much. So we started right in on The Silver Chair. That has been going very well, too.

The library has a DVD of the British TV series of The Chronicles of Narnia, or at least the first three discs (which cover Lion, Caspian, Voyage, and Chair). We watched the first disc, and well...it was pretty silly. The special effects were awfully cheesy, but that was pretty much to be expected. The pacing was much slower than the movie, of course, and Teri was bored out of her mind; but that was to be expected too (Sebastian wasn't bored at all).

But what got to me was the terrible British overacting. When a British actor is good they're outstanding, but when they're bad they're terrible. And there were a lot of actors in The Lion who were just painfully bad. "Bellowing scene-chewers" seems the best way to describe them. The Witch, in particular, was like a black hole of bad acting. She kept trying to shout her lines louder and louder, and it was simply awful.

When I was in [livejournal.com profile] stairflight's production of Romeo and Juliet, some of the other actors urged me to shout more to show that I was angry. I refused. I knew damned well that you can often convey far more anger in a softer voice, and that constantly screaming your lines can be surprisingly ineffective.

Eventually the bad acting got to me. I cracked and started MSTing (that is, commenting on the action MST3K-style). When the Witch's face was on the scream, I dubbed for her "I need some more TOILET PAPER!!!" with the requisite hamminess and eye-rolling. Sebastian completely cracked up, and made me say it again and again for the next two days.

Aslan was quite amusing too. For one thing, he was obviously stuffed. His mouth movements weren't synchronized with his words. So when he was on his way to the Stone Table to be sacrificed by the Witch, and Lucy asked him what was going to happen, I emoted "She's going to cut out my STUFFING!!!". More wild laughter from Sebastian. Ah, the fun. :D

The show of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is far less silly. The sea-serpent actually scared Sebastian a little (lots of spiky teeth). The effects were better, as was the acting. In The Lion talking animals were played (painfully) by people wearing costumes, and other creatures were portrayed with quite amateurish cartoon effects; in Voyage there was only one talking animal, Reepicheep, and although he was played by a (little person? Is that the correct term?), he was relatively well-played and not too irritating.
bobquasit: (Default)
This may sound weird, but I've been watching a lot of Barney Miller lately. I'd forgotten how incredibly funny and well-written it was. I'm constantly being amazed at how good the show is.

But the televised episodes have been terribly cut. In season three, there was an episode with Mr. Lukather, who was blind. He was chatting with Harris and Yemana, and someone mentioned that when you lose your sight, your other senses become keener to compensate (which is actually not exactly true, I think; you probably just become more aware of them).

Mr. Lukather agreed, and said that for example he could tell that Harris was over six feet tall, nervous, and a chain smoker. Yemana was amazed, and asked Lukather what he could tell about him. Lukather answered something like "You're very cool and collected, with great self-control; a natural leader. Either that, or you're Japanese."

It was an incredibly funny moment, but the entire interchange with Yemana was simply cut from the show. Annoying! Maybe I'll see if I can buy that season on DVD, if it's not too expensive.
bobquasit: (Default)
This may sound weird, but I've been watching a lot of Barney Miller lately. I'd forgotten how incredibly funny and well-written it was. I'm constantly being amazed at how good the show is.

But the televised episodes have been terribly cut. In season three, there was an episode with Mr. Lukather, who was blind. He was chatting with Harris and Yemana, and someone mentioned that when you lose your sight, your other senses become keener to compensate (which is actually not exactly true, I think; you probably just become more aware of them).

Mr. Lukather agreed, and said that for example he could tell that Harris was over six feet tall, nervous, and a chain smoker. Yemana was amazed, and asked Lukather what he could tell about him. Lukather answered something like "You're very cool and collected, with great self-control; a natural leader. Either that, or you're Japanese."

It was an incredibly funny moment, but the entire interchange with Yemana was simply cut from the show. Annoying! Maybe I'll see if I can buy that season on DVD, if it's not too expensive.

Saturday

Aug. 2nd, 2009 12:53 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Let's see...Teri and Sebastian picked me up on Friday, and we stopped at L.L. Bean. We spent more than I'd planned. We got a reasonably-priced backpack for him, and got it monogrammed with his initials for an additional $6; Teri hated the style Sebastian picked, and I have to admit that it's fairly awful. But he needs to be able to make his own choices and his own mistakes at least some of the time.

We also bought sneakers for him. And when I saw that I could get a good pair of sneakers for myself for $54...well, that's about as good a price as you'll find outside of Wal-Mart or Payless. And those ultra-cheap sneakers fall apart incredibly quickly. These sneakers have the L.L. Bean guarantee.
Read more... )
Lastly, we stopped at a DVD store. I wanted to see - just to see - how much season 2 of Saturday Night Live cost. I assume it would be $60-$70, the same as season 1. And that was the original marked price. But it was on sale, marked down to $24.95. So were season 3 and season 4. I went a little crazy, so I bought season 2 and season 3. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those classic Franken and Davis sketches, among other things.

And now I should get some sleep. Whew! It's late!

Saturday

Aug. 2nd, 2009 12:53 am
bobquasit: (Default)
Let's see...Teri and Sebastian picked me up on Friday, and we stopped at L.L. Bean. We spent more than I'd planned. We got a reasonably-priced backpack for him, and got it monogrammed with his initials for an additional $6; Teri hated the style Sebastian picked, and I have to admit that it's fairly awful. But he needs to be able to make his own choices and his own mistakes at least some of the time.

We also bought sneakers for him. And when I saw that I could get a good pair of sneakers for myself for $54...well, that's about as good a price as you'll find outside of Wal-Mart or Payless. And those ultra-cheap sneakers fall apart incredibly quickly. These sneakers have the L.L. Bean guarantee.
Read more... )
Lastly, we stopped at a DVD store. I wanted to see - just to see - how much season 2 of Saturday Night Live cost. I assume it would be $60-$70, the same as season 1. And that was the original marked price. But it was on sale, marked down to $24.95. So were season 3 and season 4. I went a little crazy, so I bought season 2 and season 3. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those classic Franken and Davis sketches, among other things.

And now I should get some sleep. Whew! It's late!
bobquasit: (Default)
Dr Katz's Me at a Glance Dr Katz's Me at a Glance by Johnathan Katz


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

An extremely funny book. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading it, and more than a little. It's based on the TV show which was on Comedy Central from 1995 to 1999, but no knowledge of the show is necessary to get the humor of the book.

Some books based on television shows are little more than cynical attempts to cash in. Others are simply illustrated transcriptions of episodes. This is neither; it's original, but perfectly in the style of the show.

If you're not familiar with Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, think of the classic old Bob Newhart show where he played a psychologist. Dr. Katz has plenty of neuroses, but his patients are even crazier. As for his chronically unemployed son and astonishingly unwilling-to-work secretary, it's hard to say if they're neurotic, or just taking advantage.

As such things go, this book is somewhat lighter on illustrations and heavier on text than similar books. It's NOT a comic-strip book, nor are there many images from the show. That's appropriate, given the relatively static animation (Squiggle-Vision) which was used in the show itself.

The book takes form of a personal organizer, the property of Dr. Katz. It includes completed feedback forms from patients (anonymous ones), session notes, suggestions from Dr. Katz's son for marketing himself, song lyrics (Dr. Katz plays in a band) and a wide variety of other stuff - much of it annotated with post-it notes by Dr. Katz himself. The post-its are, of course, simply printed on the pages - but they look surprisingly real.

I'd had no idea there was ever a book based on the show until the minute I picked it up at the used book store next to the public library in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I'd liked the show, so I picked it up on an impulse; it was cheap. Now, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out from more Dr. Katz books - and for more from the author, as well. Who is, despite the details above, Glenn Eichler - Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder (yes, the Tom Snyder) are given credit for creating the show, but the book itself was written by Glenn Eichler. I hope he wrote more.

View all my reviews.
bobquasit: (Default)
Dr Katz's Me at a Glance Dr Katz's Me at a Glance by Jonathan Katz


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars

An extremely funny book. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading it, and more than a little. It's based on the TV show which was on Comedy Central from 1995 to 1999, but no knowledge of the show is necessary to get the humor of the book.

Some books based on television shows are little more than cynical attempts to cash in. Others are simply illustrated transcriptions of episodes. This is neither; it's original, but perfectly in the style of the show.

If you're not familiar with Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, think of the classic old Bob Newhart show where he played a psychologist. Dr. Katz has plenty of neuroses, but his patients are even crazier. As for his chronically unemployed son and astonishingly unwilling-to-work secretary, it's hard to say if they're neurotic, or just taking advantage.

As such things go, this book is somewhat lighter on illustrations and heavier on text than similar books. It's NOT a comic-strip book, nor are there many images from the show. That's appropriate, given the relatively static animation (Squiggle-Vision) which was used in the show itself.

The book takes form of a personal organizer, the property of Dr. Katz. It includes completed feedback forms from patients (anonymous ones), session notes, suggestions from Dr. Katz's son for marketing himself, song lyrics (Dr. Katz plays in a band) and a wide variety of other stuff - much of it annotated with post-it notes by Dr. Katz himself. The post-its are, of course, simply printed on the pages - but they look surprisingly real.

I'd had no idea there was ever a book based on the show until the minute I picked it up at the used book store next to the public library in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I'd liked the show, so I picked it up on an impulse; it was cheap. Now, I'll definitely be keeping an eye out from more Dr. Katz books - and for more from the author, as well. Who is, despite the details above, Glenn Eichler - Jonathan Katz and Tom Snyder (yes, the Tom Snyder) are given credit for creating the show, but the book itself was written by Glenn Eichler. I hope he wrote more.

View all my reviews.
bobquasit: (Default)
David Carradine died in Bangkok yesterday. Apparently he hung himself.

By all accounts he was a very strange person, but I enjoyed his work in Kung Fu and Death Race 2000, among other things.
bobquasit: (Default)
David Carradine died in Bangkok yesterday. Apparently he hung himself.

By all accounts he was a very strange person, but I enjoyed his work in Kung Fu and Death Race 2000, among other things.
bobquasit: (Default)
I found this rather amusing, particularly what with all the hype about Terminator: Salvation (which sounds like a real piece of crap):
bobquasit: (Default)
I found this rather amusing, particularly what with all the hype about Terminator: Salvation (which sounds like a real piece of crap):

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