An interesting thing...

...I happened across this week:
Beer Goggles

The fully automatic car, coming soon to a driveway near you.

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It may soon be time for the truly automatic consumer automobile to arrive. Several major technologies that are necessary are here right now, in production and being offered to the public.

First, GPS. Yeah, yeah, no news here. Add a moving map display, route planning and a yellow-pages-like address book, and there you go. You can find one in just about all new luxury vehicles, and are available in many mid-level cars, too.

Add to that real-time traffic monitoring, via satellite or radio uplink.

Then there's the automatic cruise control, the first of which I have seen was in the 1985 Nissan Cue-X concept, but wasn't put out to the public until the oughts by Mercedes. Basically, it uses a range-finder to maintain a set distance following the vehicle in front of you, controlling both the throttle and the brake.

Curse of Chalion

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cover of Curse of ChalionThe Curse of Chalion

author: Lois McMaster Bujold
asin: 0380818604
binding: Mass Market Paperback
list price: $7.99 USD
amazon price: $7.99 USD


This book seems to start off a little slow — however, there's a lot of background information on not only the main character, Cazaril, but also on the world this series is set in, and it's information necessary to get the reader into the world. Unlike some other dreadful titles I've read in the past, Lois actually does a decent job of spreading the infodumps amongst useful bits of story that help carry it along.

Most of the characters in this book are well-rounded and multi-dimensional, which is a big plus. As this is the first I've read of her writing, I can't yet compare it with her forays into science fiction, but if the characterization and storytelling are anything like this book, I'm sure I will enjoy reading those, too.

I'm normally not one for fantasy, but I would recommend this book to anyone just starting down that path.

Igniting the Reaches

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cover of Igniting the ReachesIgniting the Reaches

author: David Drake
rating:
asin: 0441001793
binding: Paperback
list price: $5.99 USD
amazon price: $5.99


This book is the first in a series loosely based on the career of Sir Francis Drake.

It starts out as a story of traders seeking new trading routes for their goods, but then an "incedent" happens which turns the whole thing on its head. Their principal rival trading state decided earlier to close its borders, and our gang gets caught up in a firefight. This being the straw which breaks the camel's back, Our Heros turn to commerce raiding.

One of the things that throws me is the Mirror Worlds. There isn't a real explaination of it in this book, but as it's a major plot point, I'd like to have seen a better explaination of it.

NaNoWriMo draws near

Official NaNoWriMo 2006 Participant
Once again, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) beckons writers, amateur and professional alike. It runs every year through the month of November.

I signed up in anticipation of participating, but I don't yet know if I'm going to be able to go through with it, as November tends to be a busy month for me. It's really too bad it doesn't happen in September, when I'm sitting around twiddling my thumbs most of the time.

Coincidence?

Just the other day, I read a fun little short story about lost love. The "hook" (the "love" lost) was a TI graphing calculator that got crushed.

I get this itch in my hindbrain to draw a comic panel based on the scene, see? Arrgh! I couldn't get to sleep that night until I put it down on paper. After I get this scanner I recently acuired hooked up, I'll probably post it.

Anyhow, a really odd coincidence happened a few days later -- my uncle presented me with a TI-81 graphing calculator that he had found in the street, which was run over a couple times. It still works just fine, it's just scratched and dented all to hell.

Whatever

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cover of WhateverOld Man's War

author: John Scalzi
rating:
asin: 0765315246
binding: Paperback
list price: $12.95 USD
amazon price: $10.36 USD


You can find your way into Scalzi's brain, and find out about his other works, over at his blog, The Whatever.

Stuff, right?

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cover of Stuff, right?The Right Stuff

author: Tom Wolfe
rating:
asin: 0553381350
binding: Paperback
list price: $16.00 USD
amazon price: $16.00


I'm surprised I didn't read this before now. I put it off for years, expecting a dry history text, but I was pleasantly surprised. Tom Wolfe presented the material in a narrative style that grabbed my attention, pulling me in. This was quite a good read.

Rules lawyers

The one thing I hate the most when playing games is rules lawyering.

If it takes more than a minute -- 60 seconds -- to figure out what a rule should be, just roll a die or flip a coin to choose one -- then play with the rule until the end of the game or that session. Figure out the rule later, then integrate it next time you play.

The point of game playing is to have fun. Arguing over the rules is not my idea of a good time.

Wrestling as science fiction?

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I recently discovered that the Sci-Fi Channel is going to be airing ECW wrestling.

What does wrestling have to do with science fiction?

A few of the press releases hail it as 'a good thing that will help increase viewership'. Well, I'll give you the increased viewership part, but a success for Sci-Fi? No.

The Sci-Fi Channel was started as a niche channel, specifically for airing shows in the science/speculative fiction market, which includes fantasy. Shows like 'The Outer Limits', 'Battlestar Galactica' and the like. Movies such as 'Alien', 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Bladerunner'. I haven't seen any wrestling in any of the sf/f novels or short stories I've read. Nor have I seen wrestling in any of the genre's movies.