with 'post-apocalypse' tag

re-invasion from the moon

terraforming earth by jack williamson is a post-apocalyptic scifi novel about an outpost on the moon that is set up to clone a set of humans who are then taught how to go about terraforming the earth after an apocalyptic event (an asteroid/comet strike).

but it takes a few different generations of clones to get it right, with some of the attempts failing due to various problems (aliens, another asteroid, stupid humans).

it’s a pretty good read, and a quick read. the ending is rather bland.

equilibrium is a movie that is seems good, but seems to be lacking some vital ingredient. it’s like a loaf of bread baked without salt. it does have a couple of pretty snazzy action scenes, and the underlying idea is sort of neat, if well-worn.

yesterday and the day before that

yesterday i watched the day after, the 1983 television movie about a nuclear exchange with the soviet union and its aftermath. it is showing its age, and its a little amazing to think how plausible that scenario seemed in the early 1980s. there was one little throwaway comment that seemed particularly funny given subsequent events — the conflict between the soviet union and the united states is triggered when west germany is cut off (again), and as a group of students are gathered around a radio listening to updates about what is happening, one of the students says they aren’t worried about the conflict escalating because it is just germany — but she’d be worried if it were in the middle east.

i think the thing that is most amazing to me about the film is that just barely twenty years later, i’m working side-by-side (virtually) with a number of amazing developers in and from the former soviet union.

the day before yesterday, i watched the day after tomorrow. there was a lot of hand-wringing about the politics of the movie when it came out, but at its core it is just an old-fashioned disaster flick. it’s not a terrible film, but it certainly doesn’t rise very far from its genre. and it’s hard to take bubble boy in an even slightly serious role.

holiday reading wrap-up (2004 edition)

sock by penn jillette
this is a striking book, and a lot of that comes from the rhythm of the writing — it charges along not unlike penn’s patter during his act with teller. every paragraph (or nearly so) has a pop-culture reference tucked into it. and the narrator is the sock monkey of a new york police department scuba diver who investigates a serial killer, one of whose targets was an ex-girlfriend of his (the diver, not the sock monkey). and as a bonus, when my mom saw this book with my luggage, she was reminded that she had recently run across my sock monkey, and now he lives with me again.
the wild shore by kim stanley robinson
this is the first of a trilogy of books that (apparently) explore different futures for the area around orange county. it’s a post-apocalyptic take, set after someone (possibly the russians) basically knock the united states back into the last century by detonating a series of neutron bombs, and the world has decided to keep the states there by preventing the survivors from joining up. i’m not entirely sure what i think about this book — it really only tells a part of the story as compared to a novel like lucifer’s hammer or the postman. but it tells it well, and it is a well-imagined post-apocalyptic world.
the radioactive boy scout by ken silverstein
this is a non-fiction book, about an eagle scout in the detroit area who tried to build a nuclear breeder reactor in a potting shed in his mother’s backyard that eventually had to be cleaned up by the epa (by workmen in radiation suits — not something the neighbors liked to see, especially when they weren’t very forthcoming about why they were there). the book has a lot more setup than punchline, so i think it fell a little flat at the end. the reviews at amazon for this book are pretty funny — i guess some people took serious exception to the way the author covers the sort of blind boosterism that surrounded (surrounds?) the “atomic energy” industry, and his less-than-flattering (and likely accurate) capsule history of the boy scouts.