Thursday, July 31, 2008

Phursday Photos: Phight the Phuture

In the spirit of X-Files mania that has gripped, er, me, here's a couple of old photos I dug up from the last time Mulder & Scully hit the big screen:

Agent Mulder believes we are not alone...

Agent Scully believes there is a rational explanation for everything.
Even a Mini in a ginger wig.

The future they are fighting is, of course, the sinister Millenium Mini...

More pictures from the Christian Mini Owners Club going a bit X-Files mad back in '98 here.

And if anyone has a Mini and fancies doing a sequel this September, well, Yoda and I will be up for it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Tunes: Fight the Future

It probably hasn't escaped the notice of readers that there is a new X-Files flick out this week. No, really, there is.

So I figured I would dig out the album from the last time round. Not the film score, 'The X-Files: The Album', which apparently features music inspired by the first X-Files film.

It's a mix of big names (The Cure, Foo Fighters, Noel Gallagher, Sting) and slightly more obscure artists (Soul Coughing, anyone?).

The European release opens with a variation on the X-Files main theme in the style of Tubular Bells, which actually makes more sense when you hear it, and closes with The Dust Brothers rendition, both of which I think are pretty cool in their own ways.

In between you get a selection of post-grunge rock tracks (although the Foos are in melancholy mode for Walking After You), pretty typical Bjork fare in Hunter, and the slightly more ethereal vocals of Sarah McLachlan's Black. Noel Gallagher's contribution is an (overlong) instrumental piece, so thankfully no annoying Mancunian whining. (Yes, I was definitely a Blur person.) More Than This is not The Cure at their most depressing, but it's no Friday I'm in Love.

Only a couple of the songs appear briefly in the film or over the end credits, but there's actually not much that brings the X-Files directly to mind, except possibly Filter's One, and One More Murder by Better Than Ezra. But it's a nice selection of tracks, with some great artists who lurk on the fringes of my music collection - The Cure and Foo Fighters in particular are sadly underrepresented in my CD cabinet. The only track I would skip is Sting doing Invisible Sun with Aswad. I don't need Sting in my life, I'm afraid.

Oh yes, and there's a subtle hint on the cover: 'Hear the truth revealed at 10:13' which points you to a bonus track revealing some of the mythology behind the movie.

Sci-fi Song of the Week
So, which track from the album am I going to add to the mixtape this week? Well, actually I'm not. I'm going to throw in another alternative version of the X-Files theme which I quite like, by Rugby psychadelic rockers Spiritualized. I haven't heard the Version from UNKLE yet, but currently Spiritualized is my favourite X-Files theme.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


OK, so the CSFF Blog Tour this month rolls back to Dragon territory and the conclusion of Donita K Paul's DragonKeeper Chronicles, DragonLight.

Most of the tour blogs on the list I posted on Monday (c'mon, you can scroll that far!) have posted something by now; for a more complete list of who's done what and how, check out Becky or Nissa's handy lists.

My recommended stops are Jason Joyner, who discusses the appropriateness (or otherwise) of dragons in Christian literature; Steve Rice, who starts with a humourous review and then goes off debating the appropriateness (or otherwise) of telepathy in Christian literature (that's a subject I may revisit, unfortunately I haven't had time to chip in on the debate yet); and Snuffles the Dragon, just to get the Dragon's eye view of things.

And when you're finished there, the author also has a blog, if you haven't read enough blogs about dragons.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Tunes v CSFF Blog Tour: DragonLight

Her it is then, the moment Donita K Paul has spent the last two years waiting for: The Top Ten Dragon songs, as voted for by an expert panel of mythical creatures. You might like to play some or all of these tracks while enjoying her latest novel, DragonLight.

10. Red Dragon - Compliments on Your Kiss
Horrible nasty reggae pop cheese.
9. T. Rex - Theme for a Dragon
Because we haven't had any T.Rex on Tuesday Tunes since the last Top Ten.
8. Toto - St George and the Dragon
Double-whammy time: this one's from the LP Hydra, which was of course a dragonesque creature of Greek legend.
7. Vangelis - The Dragon
This weeks electronic selection comes from that bloke who did the BladeRunner score.
6. Sugarcubes - Dragon
A mythical track which may or may not exist on some versions of their album Life's Too Good.
5. Queen - Dragon Attack
Apparently created during a drunken jam session. Had to put up with a cover on the mixtape, sorry.
4. Soup Dragons - Whole Wide World
The only indie rock band named after a character from The Clangers, which was of course a favourite show of The Master.
3. The Prodigy - Firestarter
Well they do. And that crazy dancing in the video was scary like a dragon.
2. Fountains of Wayne - Red Dragon Tattoo
What can I say? These guys keep making cool music with spec-fic relevant titles.
1. Tori Amos - Puff (The Magic Dragon)
Treading the thin line between sublime and ridiculous...

Not all of the tracks are available online, but here are those that are, in handy mixtape form:


Monday, July 21, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: DragonLight

CSSF Blog Tour
Apparently, Donita K Paul's DragonKnight was the first book to feature on this tour, two of your Earth years ago.

Staggeringly, Tour guru Becky Miller insists that this humble blog is one of five current Tour stops to feature way back then. Crikey.

Even more staggeringly, I reckon I've only dropped two or three tours in the intervening time, despite having no idea what was going on most of the time. A fact which is evidenced by my overview of DragonKnight, which sort of set the tone for all subsequent Tour posts...

But this isn't about me. It's not really about the CSFF Blog Tour. It's not even about retro computing. It is, in fact, about Donita K Paul, and the exciting climax to the DragonKeeper Chronicles, DragonLight (which is not a slimmed down, low-spec 8-bit computer, which is a shame, because I could probably write something relevant if that were the case).

Never mind though, it's Tuesday tomorrow... ;)

Also tapping away on their rubber keys* this week:
Brandon Barr Justin Boyer Jackie Castle Valerie Comer Karri Compton CSFF Blog Tour Gene Curtis Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Beth Goddard Mark Goodyear Andrea Graham Todd Michael Greene Katie Hart Christopher Hopper Joleen Howell Jason Joyner Carol Keen Magma Terri Main Magma Margaret Shannon McNear Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller John W. Otte Deena Peterson Steve Rice Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Chawna Schroeder James Somers Robert Treskillard Speculative Faith Laura Williams

*another waaay off target retro computing reference.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Have you seen the saucers?

It's not just me that's gone UFO mad lately. The Ministry of Defence recently released a bunch of files on UFO sightings in the 70s and 80s, and this news was followed by various TV shows about flying saucers and UFOs, and, apparently, British UFO sightings reached bizarre levels.

None more bizarre than this one, I suspect.

Of course, it could all be a really elaborate marketing ploy.

All of which serves little purpose other than to introduce the latest Sci-fi Song of the Week, a slab of early-70s psychadelic rock by Jefferson Airplane. Check it out on the mixtape.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Abducted by ramblers

So I spotted this post the other day, which sort of follows my own insane ramblings about UFOs, so I thought, why not revisit the idea of life on other worlds.

I don't expect the 'established' church has an official view on extra-terrestrial life, although I can well imagine the lengthy and controversial debates over whether Venusians should be allowed to become priests...

However, as respected a Christian scholar as Charles Haddon Spurgeon at least appeared to accept the possibility, and the Vatican's Chief Astronomer Father Gabriel Funes said recently:

...there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does
not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom
of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as
“brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial

On the other hand, when you have a director of SETI quoted (in Wired) as saying that ET is inconsistent with the existence of God, well, I wonder exactly where she's coming from. Presumably (and I apologise if she reads this and I've done her a total disservice!) a scientific worldview which holds that religion is bunkum and any alien life form we encounter will tell us how they out-evolved religious beliefs eons ago.

Personally I would approach first contact fully aware of the very real possibility of meeting the Martian Richard Dawkins.

Some would say that, given the huge number of variables which have to be just right in order for any life, never mind intelligent life, to exist, life on other planets is extremely unlikely. I wonder what the odds are of those variables falling into place just once in an infinite universe?

And besides, creative sci-fi writers have come up with intelligent races from all kinds of wierd and inhospitable worlds, so surely God just needs to settle down with some good sf, knock up a plastecine impression of the wierdest alien, and hey presto, we've got life on other planets.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday Review: The Personifid Project by R E Bartlett

As the sometime author of mediocre novels myself, I take little pleasure in making negative comments on a book. (Except if it’s so bad that it deserves everything coming, of course, but I don’t think I’ve even started anything that bad for a while.)

I am going to do so now, however, if for no other reason than to try and avoid similar mistakes myself.

So, on with the review. The Personifid Project takes place at some unspecified future time when the Pacific has started to dry up and the planet’s human population is joined by various robot and android companions. The Project concerns the transference of human souls into artificial bodies, thus prolonging life indefinitely. Which sounds like an interesting enough premise, and a plot dealing with the potential use and abuse of this technology could certainly provide plenty of food for thought, although I’m not sure soul transference really fits in the sci-fi setting.
More of an issue to me, however, was the logical inconsistency of a world where the existence of the human soul has been scientifically proven, yet religion has become redundant to the point that Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and indeed any one of the three, have been re-named ‘the Tri-une Soul’. I think there was one passing use of the word ‘Christian’ to assure the reader that our heroes aren’t members of some wacky cult, but really, it all seems very unlikely to say the least.

OK, let’s accept that it’s science-fantasy and suspend our disbelief accordingly. Now what? Well, I’m afraid I still have one more gripe: info-dumping. Now I’m prepared to accept a degree of this, because we’ve been transported to a distant future world and things are going to need a little explanation. Just where that explanation was used got a bit confused though: our heroine, Aphra Vessey, explains the the imprint system (which I had worked out, and got the 'Mark of the Beast' reference) like someone in a cheesy radio ad, but the we were left to figure out for ourselves what the luminire does. Having finished the book, I think it is what any self-respecting author of Trek fan-fic would refer to as a transporter, or a near approximation thereof.

And why, for no apparent reason, did Lev suddenly decide to read the testimony she prepared for her baptism? And to her husband, as it obviously hadn't come up any earlier in their marriage? Surely people don’t really talk like that, even in weird far-future religious cults?

OK, gripes over, I will have to admit that the author must have got something right, because, despite all the flaws, I kept reading. I actually wanted to know what happened next. On the level of a pacy action adventure story, it works. On the whole, the future was well imagined. And on top of that, Aphra's gradual acceptance of the Tri-une Cult was believable, and there were plenty of interesting ideas brought up by the story's basic premise.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Phursday Photos: little things

Earlier this week I took the opportunity to wander around our local country park, just a chance to chill out, and hopefully get some inspiration from being out in the wilds. I'm not sure I got what I was looking for straight away, but here's what I did get:
A stroll through a meadow

Some wild flowers

A little rain

and a dragonfly sitting still for just long enough... >

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tuesday Tunes: Mixwit

You may have gathered from my occasional Top Tens that I was, in my yoof, a fan of the mix tape. So it is with yooflike excitement that I present the 21st Century equivalent, courtesy of mixwit...


I will be rearranging things to accomodate this on the sidebar soon, and adding the sci-fi song of the week to it wherever possible. Speaking of which:

Sci-fi Song of the Week

Well, given the recent news that lost scenes from the 1927 film Metropolis were found in Argentina last week, a bit of Kraftwerk seems in order. It should be the first track on the mixtape...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Doctor Who: The Donna Noble Years

Readers with photographic memories will recall that I was always, shall we say, dubious about Catherine Tate returning to the TARDIS. At season's end though, I can pretty safely say that it wasn't her fault this year's Doctor Who wasn't as good as some.

So here's a quick recap of the year (may contain spoilers for those in other time zones):

Slimming pills that turn your beer belly into some kind of alien Furby. That's just silly.
Aliens were responsible for 'volcano day' in Pompeii. That's very Doctor Who.
SatNav is evil - not that we needed the Doctor to tell us that.

Best episodes of the season: probably Donna's first alien planet, the Ood-Sphere, where she discovers some pretty unpleasant things about the human race; and Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, by lead writer in waiting Steven Moffat.

And the finale? Well, Doctor-light episode Turn left serves as a sort of prelude to what is to come (and in itself is also a high point of the series), with the Doctor's former companions, Torchwood and UNIT together struggling to save the world without the Doctor's intervention.

Rose (presumably) manages to sprinkle the 'Bad Wolf' message all over alien Chinatown to warn the Doctor, and then he joins Torchwood and UNIT to save the world. The big cross-over with Torchwood and Sarah Jane makes the whole thing a bit crowded, and most of them don't do very much, but this is Donna's destiny. Rose Tyler striding between dimensions with a big gun like soem kind of inter-galactic Billie the Vampire Slayer was always going to be a welcome return, although Mickey and Jackie didn't do a lot other than follow her onto the set. Actually, K-9 would have been a more useful ally, I suspect, but even he had his bit part.

There's a few nods back to 'classic' Who, another blatant Hitch-hiker's moment (replacing aquatic mammals with honey-producing insects doesn't stop it being plagiarism!), and, of course, those supposedly extinct Daleks.

Sure, some of it was silly, but this is Doctor Who - it's entertainment, not hard sf. If you look past the end of term party RTD was obviously throwing for himself, dodge the obvious plot-holes, and just settle down to enjoy the ride, well, what's not to enjoy?

I could draw out plenty of spiritual lessons from it all, but it's entertainment, not Sunday School. Having said that, destiny, or God's plan, or whatever else you want to call it, is something I'm a great believer in. And that, for me, was the Big Theme of the finale, from Donna's alternate history through Dalek Caan's prophecies to the Doctor returning to his usual status as 'lonely god'.

Finale aside, not the best DW season, but still way ahead of anything else on telly. And, as it turned out, I was pretty sorry to see Donna go - not least because of the way she had to go. She deserved better.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Superhero pastors

Just stopping by with a quick semi-relevant link:

The superhero guide to famous pastors, courtesy of Stuff Christians Like. I think that may be a thing American Christians like more than us Brits, but superheroes have kind of become part of this blogs remit (albeit a little part).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sci-fi Song of the Week

There are any number of ways I could have gone here to follow the UFO theme from the previous post. I suspect we'll get around to most of them in time, but really, UFO mythology has to start at Roswell...