Galaxy’s Edge – Galactic Outlaws – A Science Fiction Book Review

Back in January I reviewed Legionnaire, the first volume in the Galaxy’s Edge series by Jason Anspach & Nick Cole.  That story was a straight up mil-sf story set in a future where the human race has spread into the galaxy and formed a “Republic” of worlds.  At the point in this Universe’s history that Legionnaire takes place, the Republic is beginning to devolve into an empire, ruled over by an elite that controls the rich central systems, with an underclass occupying the rest of the galaxy and the edge of the galaxy as an outlaw haven where even the powerful Legion can do little but skirmish with the rebels and pirates that abound out there.  By the end of that story it’s apparent that all the skill and valor of the remnant of faithful soldiers is being frittered away for political points by the bureaucrats that call the shots and wield the Legion as a bludgeon against the innocent inhabitants of the poorer sectors of the Republic.  As I said back in January, it is an engaging military tale.

So, what have Anspach and Cole done for an encore?  It appears that Legionnaire merely set the stage for the main event.  This is going to be a space opera of epic proportions.  And it’s easy to see what they intend to do is follow the space opera play book but dial it up to eleven.  And in doing so they are following in a long tradition.  Most recently, George Lucas mined that vein for all it would pay with his Star Wars franchise.  His rebels revolting against a republic that has turned into an evil empire is the latest iteration of a story that goes back to the actual Roman Empire and the tales of Brutus and Spartacus and Masada.

And when I say they’ve dialed it up to eleven I’m not kidding.  The text is full of little blatant references to dialog and images reflecting some scene from Star Wars or Firefly.  It was kind of fun finding them.  And whole characters are parodied.  There is a princess with the rebels named Leenah.  There is a plucky scoundrel in a freighter who rescues the princess.  There is a bot that guards a young damsel in distress.  The bot speaks with some combination of the diction of C3P0 and the Operative from Serenity.  You can literally hear the toff British accent.  And then to make sure you don’t miss any ingredients they are sometimes doubled.  So, there are two scoundrels with freighters helping damsels in distress.  There are two damsels in distress.  There are two bounty hunters.

And there’s even a cantina.  There are mob warlords with bounties on the plucky scoundrels.  There is something like a dark lord whose name is Goth Sullus.  So far there are no Jedi Knights but some of the characters seem to live forever so something’s going on there.

Suffice it to say that a lot of stuff is going on.  And by the end of the book you can see that this is just the beginning of the story.

And now, what do I think of all this?  Well, I have a theory about space opera.  I believe that space opera has the potential to be very good or very bad.  It entirely depends on the imaginative powers and writing skills of the author.  Take an E. E. Doc Smith or an Edgar Rice Burroughs and you get the Lensman stories or Barsoom, fun and excitement.  Take the likes of George Lucas and you end up with Jar Jar Binks or the latest Disney feminist trope with a light saber.

The good news is this is fun space opera.  None of the damsels in distress rescue the hero.  No one mentions race or gender studies terminology and the good guys aren’t ashamed of being good.  I’m pretty sure the authors have included the homages to Star Wars imagery to sort of point out that the story doesn’t have to be bad just because of the space opera tropes.  It just requires the story and characters to be interesting, likable and fun.  And in this case they are.  So if you like your space opera right up front without too much artistic restraint then I’d recommend Galactic Outlaws.

Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg – A Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Review

A while back TomD gave me an SF&F book recommendation. He said that Silverberg’s Majipoor series was a combination of science fiction and fantasy.  At the time I couldn’t think of anything I’d read that fell into that category.  Well, my brain is old so I’ll plead that because after thinking about it awhile I remembered that Zelazny’s Lord of Light had aspects that fit both mythology and science fiction.  So I sent away to Bezos’s megamonopoly and received the three volumes in the series.  And of course it was interesting to see that on the cover of the first book (Lord Valentine’s Castle) that Zelazny had provided a positive blurb.  He said it was a picaresque tale.  And as it turned out, he was exactly right.  I’ll cut to the chase with the verdict.  I liked the story.  Now you’ll get the ponderous literary review.

So how can it be both a fantasy and science fiction? The story takes place on a planet called Majipoor.  It was a world colonized by humans via space travel more than ten thousand years before the story unfolds.  So there’s the science fiction.  And the humans seemed to have also brought along a number of sentient species to live on Majipoor from other planets.  These various species and the humans interact as good neighbors, for the most part, in a civilization of twenty to thirty billion souls that comfortably fits on the giant world of Majipoor.  Now here comes the fantasy.  This world is ruled by four beings designated, the Coronal, the Pontifex, The Lady of the Isle of Sleep and the King of Dreams.  The first two of these individuals performed much as the Augustus and Caesar of the later Roman Empire did, being a senior and junior king appointed to rule a gigantic state.  But the second two, the Lady and the King intervened in Majipoor by sending dreams to the inhabitants.  It is this dream life that lends a fantasy element to the story.  And just to lend a fantasy aspect to the surroundings most of the technology is more or less of a pre-industrial vintage.  But there are exceptions.  Beasts of burden pull the carts and wagons of the inhabitants but the wagons are actually placed on anti-gravity modules.  So, whatever power provides anti-gravity doesn’t also produce forward locomotion.  Very odd.

So this is the background. The narrative follows a very engaging fellow named Valentine who ends up on a journey to discover his past and his destiny.  He meets many interesting and amusing characters and even learns an interesting skill, juggling.  It sounds odd and doesn’t seem to have anything to do with either science fiction or fantasy but it makes for an interesting and entertaining read.  And that is the definition of a picaresque story.

Silverberg has invested a substantial amount of effort building up the background and scenery of Majipoor. He has given us the canvas.  There are several other volumes in the series and I like it enough to continue on to the next volume.  But I want to clarify a couple of things.  This isn’t the Lord of the Rings.  There is no solemn morality play underlying Majipoor.  It is a sunny world where the good guy gets the girl and the crown and juggling and wine are their own reward.  Read it for the inventiveness and the story.  No profundity impinged on my reading but it was fun.  Recommended for folks who like their fiction fun.

The Promethean – A Science Fiction Book Review

I previously read Owen Stanley’s novel “The Missionaries.”  That was a satire about primitive people running up against the insanity of United Nations social engineering.  Because I enjoyed his writing I figured I’d give “The Promethean” a whirl.  This book takes place in the same world as “The Missionaries” but since the subject involves humanoid robots and human-level artificial intelligence I’ve slightly stretched the definition by including it in science fiction.  But it also could be called a social satire or a social comedy.

The title is an echo of the full title of Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus.”  In our case Dr. Frankenstein is represented by Harry Hockenheimer, a depressed American billionaire approaching forty and feeling like a failure.  The mundane source of his vast wealth left him scientifically unfulfilled.  He desired to create a scientific marvel and what he decides on is a robot so advanced in mind and body that it can fool all even the most intelligent audience.

The story proceeds from his plan to secretly build his man in England to the adventures of his creation, Frank Meadows interacting with modern British society in its various facets, from a small town pub, to appearing on a day time reality television show, to a University faculty dinner, and finally to an invitation at 10 Downing Street.

Along the way we meet several interesting characters who represent various facets of society and various philosophical bents including the scourge of our age, the Social Justice Warriors.  But from my point of view, the most interesting character is a Scotsman academic, Dr. Habakkuk McWrath, Reader in Extreme Celtic Studies.  His pugnacious and colorful speech inspires Frank to assert his humanity even in the face of the Three Laws of Robotics.

And the book concludes at its absurd climax.  And what is the lesson of this social satire?  I really don’t know.  Perhaps it is just that humanity has reached a point where a rational appraisal of modern life can no longer find a reason to continue.  The absurdity of what we do and why we do it has finally reached a point where scrapping the whole enterprise and starting over is the best way forward.  But that is just my guess.  Let’s just say it is a tale questioning the definition of intelligent life.  It’s a moderate length story, about 170 pages and moves right along.  I liked it but I will caution that it is a mild tale and cannot be mistaken for an adventure story.  More of a droll cautionary tale of the world we now inhabit.

 

Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman – A Science Fiction Movie Review

(Reviewer’s Note:  I watched this movie almost three weeks ago and put it aside without finishing it because much better things were going on.  Now that I’ve decided to finish it, I find that I’ve forgotten some of the details.  Please forgive any vagueness or inaccuracies.  Merciful forgetfulness has shielded me from a vivid memory of this dreck.  But believe me when I say that this movie is as bad or worse than I represent it.  Enjoy.)

As a worthy successor to a recent review (One Million B.C.) I have another TCM .  Here is a movie that cries out for mockery.  It has a plot so weak that I believe the writer must have been either a heroin addict, a congenital idiot or a democrat.  This was a year after sputnik launched so the UFO is a big silver ball.  The alien is a giant and he more or less fills up the whole ball.  He’s a big bald-headed guy wearing a short dress that looks like it was stolen from the costume closet of the movie Spartacus.  For some reason that probably didn’t even make sense to the writer, the giant is searching for diamonds.  Alright, so much for the science fiction, such as it is.  Now for the human interest.  Harry and Nancy are a married couple with problems.  Nancy is rich and has problems involving drinking and mental instability and Harry has a wandering eye for the ladies.  When first we see him he’s at what looks like a diner with a blonde vixen named Honey wrapped around him complaining about how his rich wife won’t give him more money to spend on booze and trashy women.  Honey is sympathetic.  He has a plan to get Nancy’s money by having her committed to a mental institution.  Honey is sympathetic again.

Switch scenes to Nancy driving along the roads of some southwestern landscape, cactus, sage brush and sand in all directions.  She seems sad and drunk.  And as she sadly, drunkenly drives along she sees giant sputnik flying around in the sky in a completely unconvincing imitation of anything moving through the air.  Eventually it lands on the road in front of her.  Nancy brakes into the shoulder and witnesses a truly unconvincing special effects portrayal of a fifty-foot alien coming out of a forty-foot sputnik.  Most of the scene centers on Nancy screeching uncontrollably and trying to avoid the giant as he tries to paw her with his six-foot-long giant hand.  Later on, we’ll learn that he somehow knew she was wearing a big diamond on a necklace.  So, after a short encounter Nancy runs off leaving her car and stumbles into town.  Telling the sheriff about the giant increases her reputation for being nuts.  The sheriff tells his deputy to find Harry and tell him to bring Nancy home for a rest and a visit to the head shrinker.

Meanwhile Harry is now ensconced with Honey and bribes the deputy to say he couldn’t find him.  Hearing Nancy’s story from the deputy gets Harry and Honey thinking that their big chance to have Nancy permanently locked up in a rubber room is at hand.  They celebrate by going to Honey’s hotel room.

Eventually Harry goes to claim Nancy at the sheriff’s office.  She nags at him until he agrees to go back for her car and see if her story is true.  They find her car but the alien comes back.  Harry fires a few rounds at the alien then bolts in fear.  The alien catches Nancy and Harry drives off without her.  Harry returns home and discovers that the alien has returned Nancy.  She is lying unconscious on the roof of the pool house.  She has scratches around her neck and her diamond is gone.  Later on a doctor tells us that there are obvious signs of radioactivity.  Science!

Now the sheriff decides he must act.  He and the deputy agree to go out to where her car was and prove that there was nothing strange going on.  Unfortunately, when they find her car they also find the space ship.  The sheriff and the deputy go inside the space ship.  Here they walk through a few rooms that seem to be sized for normal humans.  And so, we have to ask ourselves how exactly does this giant fit in this space craft?  In rough dimensions it appears that he would have to be curled into a fetal position just to fit into the diameter of the ship.  And that is supposing that it was completely hollow.  How would that allow these walls and floors to exist?  And thus, my theory that the writer was a congenital idiot.

In one room they find a bunch of diamonds.  Nancy’s diamond is there.  They theorize on the scientific reasons why the giant wants diamonds.  Science!  When the giant returns they battle him with a pistol and a shot gun.  I think I remember they blow either him or his space ship up with the shot gun.  But I’m not sure.  I think I was starting to lose interest at this point.

Doctors are summoned and Nancy is sedated.  Harry plots putting poison in her IV drip but before he has a chance to she becomes a fifty-foot woman.  Of course, all we see is her giant hand inside a room in the house.  Eventually she goes berserk and breaks through the roof of the house and goes on a rampage looking for Harry.  Now she is dressed in an impromptu fifty-foot brassiere and mini-skirt supposedly fashioned out of bed sheets.  And all things considered she looks pretty good!  At this point I reflected on the comparison between pretty and gigantic Nancy and normal sized but skanky looking Honey.  Sure, the disparity in size might lead to marital difficulties but her huge size would guarantee that Harry would be pampered by his huge wife like some kind of rag doll, probably carried in her apron pocket and fed huge crumbs that collected on her clothes as she ate her huge meals.  Well, enough of this random speculation.

Nancy goes on a rampage through town looking for Harry.  Finally she pulls the roof off of the diner and finds Harry and Honey cowering in a corner.  Nancy crushes Honey and grabs Harry in one hand and walks away.  Finally the sheriff fires his shotgun at Nancy and hits an electric substation which explodes and kills Nancy.  And Harry is dead too, although it’s uncertain if he dies from the explosion, the fall or from being crushed by a death spasm in his wife’s hand.

I ask you, is there a more ridiculous movie?  Some will point to “Plan Nine From Outer Space” as a paragon of bad movie making and there is much justice in that.  But compare the budgets of these two movies.  “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman” had a budget of $80,000.  Looking at Plan Nine it would surprise me if $500 was expended.  Unless you can claim that Plan Nine is one hundred and sixty times worse than Attack then you must admit that pound for pound, Plan Nine is a better movie.  So, let’s hail Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman as the movie that provided least for the money expended.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey – A Science Fiction Movie Review

(Warning, this whole review is one long spoiler.  In my defense this movie is 49 years old.)

The only good thing about The Academy Awards is that for the whole month before, TCM plays many good (and not so good) old movies.  Last night I watched 2001.  As the exit music was finishing it occurred to me that this was the first time in almost fifty years that I had watched the movie from beginning to end.  Back in 1968 I attended the film in a large theater in Manhattan as part of a class trip.  At the time I was a sci-fi fan but I distinctly remember becoming incredibly bored during the “Infinity” sequence.  And sure enough, last night I found my eyes glazing over as I waited for Keir Dullea to stop making funny faces and show up in Versailles.  And then it also occurred to me that it was actually a very, very good movie.  So, let’s talk about it.  You already know I don’t like the “Infinity” sequence.  But I find the rest of the film is excellent.  Not everybody cares for Kubrick’s style in film-making.  There is a great deal of stylization and idiosyncratic imagery that bothers many people.  And without a doubt it is highly un-naturalistic.  In fact, the ape men were the most realistic as personalities.  The other characters are decidedly wooden.

But without a doubt this movie is an amazing spectacle.  The matching of images to the musical soundtrack is perfect.  The sequences of space ships landing and maneuvering are shown as if they were dancers in a ballet.  The “Dawn of Man” sequence is riveting.  I could believe that the actual event was very much like the portrayal (minus the monolith of course).  It captured the essence of human ingenuity.  The desperate and sordid circumstances of that ingenuity ring true.

And then there’s HAL.  I hate HAL.  I always have.  But he is the perfect Frankenstein Monster.  And the arc of his crime and punishment is, for me, a thing of hideous beauty.  His relations with the astronauts are as creepy and dishonest as some Dickens villain, something like Uriah Heep.  Some people feel sadness when Dave lobotomizes HAL and reduces him to the level of a two-year-old singing “Daisy.”  I never shared that sadness.  I guess I’m more Old-Testament.

So, that brings us back to the “Infinity” sequence which sucks.  But following it we have what I call the “Versailles” scene where I guess Dave lives his life out as a captive of the monolith makers.  This is weird and I guess necessary to set up the conclusion.  Dave dies and is reborn as the next stage of human evolution.  And he is returned to our solar system and the picture ends with him floating above earth to the sequence of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” and “The Blue Danube Waltz” playing us out.

In sum we have a fifty year old movie that is still visually stunning, that addresses the inexplicable advance of savage animals to the brink of interplanetary travel and the frightening prospect of facing our masters in artificial intelligence.  What’s not to like?  Well he could have added a few good-looking space babes but nobody’s perfect.

Legionnaire (Galaxy’s Edge) (Volume 1) by Jason Anspach & Nick Cole – A Science Fiction Book Review

I read one of Nick Cole’s earlier books (CTRL ALT Revolt!) last year and liked it.  So, when I heard he was involved in a mil-sf series I figured I’d check it out.  It turns out it’s a dual authorship arrangement with Jason Anspach.  I ordered it (I like to read books on paper) and read it last week.

I like well-written mil-sf.  This is well-written.  The story chronicles an elite military unit involved in a supposedly routine diplomatic mission that devolves into a catastrophe.  It melds the feel of modern American military in the middle east (ala Black Hawk Down) with lineage going back to Rudyard Kipling’s India stories and translates it into a futuristic landscape of alien creatures, energy weapons and space cruisers.  But the technology is definitely beside the point.  The story is the camaraderie of men attempting to complete their mission and keep each other alive in an environment where bureaucratic amateur officers are just as dangerous as the enemy.

The protagonist (first person narrative for the most part) is an NCO in the “Legion.”  Through his eyes we see his comrades display various strengths and weaknesses and we observe the “regular army” that are combined with the legionnaires on this mission attempting to adapt to a combat role they are unprepared for.  And we observe non-combatants and the alien inhabitants of this planet at the “galaxy’s edge.”

If you like military science fiction you’ll probably like this book.  If you even just like war stories you might like this book.  It is volume one of a series but this book is sort of a stand-alone story.  The series chronicles the saga of the Galactic Republic through the eyes of the Legion as an elite force cleaning up the messes being perpetrated by an increasingly autocratic state over its subject worlds at the periphery of the galaxy.  Basically, it sounds like the Roman Republic devolving into the Roman Empire.  Or is it the American Republic?

As you can probably guess from my comparison with Black Hawk Down, it’s not a happily ever after kind of tale.  It’s a down beat story but if you like mil-sf then that’s probably no surprise.  If not be warned.

So, here’s my opinion.  This is a good stand-alone story.  The story develops and the action and the sub-plots unfold in natural way.  The characters are interesting and have enough development to allow you to cheer and boo the appropriate actors.  I can definitely recommend it.  For me the question is do I go forward with a longer series?  From what I understand the individual books are separated in time.  They document the history of this galactic civilization.  Implicitly this means none of the characters will carry over to the next book.  Can the authors generate enough new people to populate the series?  I think I’ll try the next book in the series and see how that works out.  I’ll report back on the next installment when I do.

Science Fiction TV Series Review – Stranger Things – First Season

Full disclosure, I am the only one I know who still uses Netflix for DVDs and doesn’t stream.  Oh, the shame of it all!  So last month the first season of Stranger Things became available to rent on Netflix (or as it’s now known DVD.com) and they sent me the two discs.  I was busy with life and the holidays so I watched it after the Christmas during some time off from work.  For anyone who hasn’t seen it but is interested or for anyone who wants my opinion here are my thoughts.

Let me start with the strongest impression the show left.  Almost everyone in the show is not particularly likeable.  Let me expand.  Many of the characters are annoying or worse.  In particular, the character who should most attract our sympathy, the mother of the missing boy, played by Winona Ryder, is hands down in the top three of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen in a movie or tv.  Several times I was hoping the town sheriff would pull out his gun and shoot her or at least pistol whip her to make her shut up.  There was one character I liked.  He was a strong, caring, humorous, warm, responsible, regular guy who used good judgement and compassion to help a troubled runaway pre-teen.  He was shot in the head about six minutes after his first screen appearance.  After that it was annoying nerds, arrogant jocks, clueless suburban parents, alcoholic lawmen and nefarious government officials all the way down.  Eventually the hell-spawned creature makes some appearances, and interestingly, I found myself kind of rooting for him.  At least he didn’t blather on.

The season is eight episodes long and I finished them.  After reading what I just wrote, you may be wondering why I did finish them.  Well, surprisingly, I found myself sucked into the story.  Maybe this was an artifact of having all the episodes in front of me, time available to watch them and post-Christmas-Feast stupefaction.  But for some reason, at the end of each episode I wanted to see the next one.  And even after I knew how it would go I wanted to see it through to the end.

So, what’s my recommendation?  Well, guarded at best.  The plot is some kind of bastard spawn of Stephen King, Steven Spielberg and the X-Files.  The tropes are hackneyed and the characters, as mentioned, are mostly stereotypes and annoying ones at that.  Two episodes in you know how it will go and who will do what.  Honestly if someone had told me this ahead of time, there is no way I would have watched it.  But now that I have watched it I’m wondering if I should wait the year and watch Season 2.  My gut tells me that there is no way to make the next season even as mildly interesting as this first season.  And the thought of listening to Winona Ryder screeching at her unfortunate neighbors again is hard to justify.

I was starting to like how the sheriff usually settled difficult negotiations by punching people in the face.  His timing was really good.  The sheriff, played by an actor named David Harbour, is a big guy who drinks too much and sleeps around with the various lonelier ladies of the small midwestern town where the story takes place.  I found him the only character that I actually believed might exist in the real world.  But is seeing Sheriff Hopper pummel various “men in black” enough of a reason to sit through this thing again?  I doubt it, but it’ll be a whole year before I have to make that decision and pickings are so slim, so who knows.  Anyway, consider yourself warned, if a review that’s a year behind the times can be considered a warning.

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 4

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 3

 

Scene 1 – Bridge of the USS Ronald Reagan off the shore from Washington D.C., Thursday 1155 hours.  Present on the bridge are crew of the USSRR and President Trump (PT), General Adam Baldwin (GAD), Secretary Mattis (SM), Melania Trump (MT), Peter Thiel (PTh)

PT- General Baldwin, are we ready to implement the Musk protocol?

GAD – On your command, sir.

PT – Go!

(General Baldwin flips three switches on a panel on his desk console)

GAD – Cruise missile with explosive warhead will impact in twenty seconds.  Cruise missile with tantalum slug will impact 3 seconds after.  One megaton thermonuclear device is awaiting your command.

PT – Go!

(Baldwin flips a fourth switch)

GAD – Nuke will detonate in two minutes.  Flash guards are in place.  Prepare for turbulence.

(two minutes later the aircraft carrier is buffeted by a shock wave that knocks several of those standing to the floor)

PT – General, what is the status of the target?

(several service personnel cluster in front of an instrument panel attempting to restore the main console to life.  Slowly an image appears as the mushroom cloud clears away.  the ship remains in place)

GAD – Negative result.  The target remains.

PT – Mattis, where is Musk?

SM – As you anticipated, he escaped on his private aircraft shortly after your … erm … morale boosting speech.  His aircraft was admitted to the alien space ship a little while before the launch of your attack.

PT – What is the status of the space ship?

GAD – Radar shows the ship is in motion on a heading that will put it above us in five minutes.

PT – Put in a call to the “negotiations team”

(on the main console can be seen Obama, Gore and Musk seated and surrounded by several of the aliens.  the humans are all obviously pleased and quite relaxed)

BO – Well Donald, who could have imagined your presidency ending like this?  Elon said it was easy convincing you that tantalum was the answer.  Sorry it didn’t work out.

PT – So what does the future hold for you three?  Surely your new masters will dispose of you once they finish off the rest of our military.

EM – Far from it.  We have convinced them that we can provide information that will allow them to effectively harness a valuable natural resource, namely a large intelligent slave labor force.  Also, as it turns out, they like to eat meat.

PT – How delightful.  Thiel do your stuff.

Peter Thiel moves over to the main console and the screen splits between the image of the conspirators and a telephoto view of the approaching space craft.  Thiel presses several buttons and throws a switch.  The audio from inside the ship registers a high pitched squeal and the video from that half of the screen goes black.  At the same time on the other half of the screen the ship ceases forward motion and falls out of the sky like a stone.

PTh – Mr. President, the device has successfully disrupted their drive.

PT – General what is the current situation of the space ship?

GAD – Mr. President, the ship is falling at terminal velocity and will strike the Atlantic Ocean surface in a little over two minutes.

PT – Thiel, what do your bright boys think will happen when it hits.  Will the occupants survive?

PTh – Doubtful sir.  Without anti-gravity they will experience an instantaneous  stop from about 100 miles per hour.  And since the ship is not built to support its own weight against gravity it will fracture and sink to the bottom immediately.  Also the contact between the warp drive and sea water will be explosive.  Basically a total loss.

PT – Too bad.  I guess we’ll have to try to save one of the other ships when we take them down.

SM – But Mr. President, we can’t hope to gain admittance to a ship a second time.  They’ll immediately begin to destroy our cities.  And after the failure of the tantalum to disrupt their shield we are helpless to stop them.

PT – Yeah, about that.  Thiel, do the exposition.

PTh – Certainly Mr. President.  Elon was the only traitor on his team.  Tantalum does perform as he said it would.  But Mr Musk substituted another material for tantalum in the slugs he provided us.  Luckily the only other slugs he had were depleted uranium and the low-level radiation was detected and tipped us off to the deception.  When we figured out what was intended we switched Elon’s cell phone with one that would spray molten tantalum all around the control room of the alien spacecraft once triggered.

SM – So we can proceed to attack the other space ships with the tantalum sandwich approach.

PT – Yes.  Hey I like that phrase, tantalum sandwich.  Let’s say I thought it up.

SM – Sure …, …  sir.

PT – Good.  So, here’s the plan.  Get a team together at the Area 51 producing the tantalum tipped cruise missile payloads.  Work out a schedule for taking down the local ships but prioritize taking down the mother ship.  Get it to crash on the moon.  That’s our best hope of providing intact equipment to reverse engineer.  Thiel will tag along with the research team that Musk had and it will be his job to shepherd all this technology so it stays in American hands only.

GAD – But why weren’t they aware of how dangerous tantalum is to their systems and why didn’t they have counter measures?

PTh – The only thing we’ve thought of so far is that the star system these aliens came from did not have all the elements we have here on earth.  Tantalum is a fairly heavy element.  These elements are produced in fairly rare stellar events and they are not equally distributed around the cosmos.  I guess you could say it’s just blind luck.

PT – Alright, Carl Sagan, that’s enough.  Now get to work.

PTh – Yes Mr. President.  (under his breath) (what a jerk).

MT – Oh Schmoopy, you are the action hero.  Like Bruce Willis.

PT – But with better hair!

MT – Ahhh … …, sure.  But Schmoopy, how will we fix all the things the bad aliens have broken?

PT – Don’t worry Schmoopy, with the technology we’ll get from the aliens and my leadership we can make this a better and happier world.  As long as the democrats don’t screw it up again.

MT – So true Schmoopy, so true.  You are the wise man.

PT – And you are a wise woman for knowing it, Schmoopy.

PTh – Now I remember why I’m gay.

PT – Shaddap Thiel.

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 3

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 2

 

Scene 1: Thursday, 1145 hours USS Ronald Reagan flight deck,  On a raised platform is President Trump (PT), at the microphone, behind him on chairs are various government and military dignitaries and some celebrities and foreign leaders that appear to have been snatched away from their lives without notice.

PT – Okay people it’s time.  In a few minutes the greatest battle ever fought will begin and we will vanquish the evil ugly and reputedly smelly enemy or we will die.  Now I’m not talking about Hillary.  She’s already taken care.  In fact, she’s still bobbing around behind us.  I think she’s still trying to catch up to us but it’s not going to happen, it’s too late.  She’s too low energy.  Forget her.

No, I’m talking about the space aliens.  Have you seen these things?  Sure, they’re not as uncoordinated as Hillary but even she doesn’t smell as bad as these things.  I mean really, it’s awful.  So even if we didn’t have a beef with these guys wanting to steal our planet we still would want to get rid of them because of that smell.  And wouldn’t you know? What are they?  That’s right, illegal aliens.  They’re breaking our laws by being here.  And the aliens aren’t sending us their best probably.  They’re probably criminals without valuable skills.  I mean sure they know about interstellar travel but who needs that?  What’s there?  Probably just more smelly aliens and bad food and food poisoning like Montezuma’s Revenge.  And what do they want?  They want our jobs and to live off of welfare.  Also, they want to blow up all our cities.  Now a lot of those cities didn’t vote for me.  In fact, if there were no more large cities I’d win every election and we’d have enormous majorities in both House and Senate and I’d be able to make all kinds of good changes and we’d get amendments to the Constitution that would be fantastic.  But there wouldn’t be anymore Trump Tower or the Mets or Yankees so there is that.  Well anyway they want to blow up the cities and they want to take all our minerals and water.  So, we’re gonna have to whack all of them.

Now you may say how is Trump gonna do that?  How can he destroy star ships with force fields and giant lasers and antigravity?  Well I can.  I’ve got Elon Musk and he’s got tantalum which is a real thing and he’s figured out what will destroy these alien losers.  Now Musk is not my favorite nerd because he’s all about global warming and electric cars and other stupid things that don’t work.  But that’s because he was getting paid off by Obama who also isn’t my favorite but who I’ve sent to talk to the smelly aliens.  Anyway, I got Thiel who is my favorite geek to talk to Musk and I told him I’d let him wet his beak with whatever we get from the alien ships.  So, he got his nerd factory cranking on Ritalin and they came up with this tantalum thing which is a real thing and not a hoax. But if it is a hoax I’ll tie him to a missile and use his big fat head to knock a hole in the alien ship.  But that won’t be necessary because he knows where his bread is buttered.  So, the plan is in place and now all of you servicemen are going to get to work.  And maybe even some of you servicewomen if you actually know what you’re doing which I doubt.  But just stay out of the guys’ way and maybe make some sandwiches or something and some good strong coffee which always helps in cases like this.  I like pastrami if it’s lean and you have good brown mustard.  But I don’t suppose there’s good deli on this floating airport.  Well anyway, the important thing is we’ve got a big job to do and we’d better get to it.  But remember when you’re working with the missiles and the jets and the boat engines that you’re part of something great.  Because you’re working for me.  That’s right.  Even though you work for a sergeant or a general or an admiral, remember they work for me.  I’m the Commander-in-Chief of all of you.  I sign your check and I make sure you have the bombs you need and the food you eat.  Hillary wouldn’t have given you bombs and food.  She didn’t like the military because she doesn’t like men.  It’s like Rosie O’Donnell only Bill’s Hillary’s beard.  And you don’t work for the Congress.  They can’t even get out of their own way to get the budget done every year.  I mean, Little Marco, Captured McCain, Fauxcahantas, Cryin’ Chuck and Lyin’ Ted?  Give me a break.  And how about JEB!  He couldn’t even deal with human aliens.  He’d probably marry one of these things just to show how fair he is.  And forget about the rest of the world.  Right now, the Europeans and the Russians and Chinese and the rest of those foreigners are getting their clocks cleaned by these goons.  I’m going to take care of this problem for the whole world.  But they won’t even reimburse me for the costs.  I mean, I bet this tantalum stuff ain’t cheap and I know Musk is gonna charge top dollar.  But you have to pay for good help so I’ll fork it over.  It’s a good deal.  So anyway, remember this is about making America great and also keeping it from being blown up.  But don’t think there will be any United Nations rodeo clowns in blue helmets helping us out.  There won’t be and I wouldn’t want them if they offered.  Americans get the job done on their own.  Period.  So, remember that and do a good job and you’ll be able to say you helped Trump win this war.

And one last thing, any hope that a cease fire would occur is gone.  A message from the ship announced that Gore and Obama, after reviewing the aliens environmental record, decided to throw in with the aliens.  Well both of those guys smelled funny to begin with so that’s probably for the best

So remember, this is a fight to the death so don’t hesitate.  Give it everything you’ve got.  And I promise when we win, each and every one of you, even you ladies, will receive a very nice gift package including Trump steaks, Trump knives and a very nice picture of me with a beautiful facsimile signature that is just as good as though I actually signed it.  Trump out.

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 2

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 1

 

Scene 1: Bridge of the Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald Reagan positioned off shore from Washington DC.  Thursday 8AM EST.  In attendance Admiral Harmon (AH), officers and crew of the USSRR, President Trump (PT), Secretary Mattis (SM), Elon Musk (EM), General Adam Baldwin (GAD), Al Gore (AG), Hillary Clinton (HC), Barack Obama (BO)

 

PT – Okay Steve, we’ve got everyone here we’ll need.  Start the exposition.

SM – Mr. President, we’ll start with an update by General Baldwin on the current status of the ships above our cities.  Then Mr. Musk will review the status of his team’s scientific results.  Finally, former President Obama will speak as representative for the “Resistance,” whatever that means.

PT – Okay General, what can you tell us?

GAD – Mr. President, Gentlemen and Madame Secretary… (interrupted by Hillary)

HC – Stop right there you militaristic sexist Neanderthal.  It’s not Madame Secretary anymore it’s Mix Secretary.  Join the 21st century you deplorable despicable … (Trump interrupts)

PT – General, wait a second.  Admiral, have two seamen escort Hillary off the bridge and throw her over the side.

AH – Literally?

SM – Better hurry Harmon or you’ll be next.

AH – Yes, sir.

HC – You can’t do this!  I should be President!  I had more popular vote!  He’s not qualified!  He’s not the future, he’s the past… (voice receding into the distance as she’s dragged away).

PT – Barack, Al, any problems?

AG – Right there with you.

BO – She’s not who we are.

PT – Good.  Baldwin, continue.

GAD – As of this morning 0945 hours EST the three ships located over the continental United States have moved into position over New York City, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.  Based on the decaying signal currently bouncing through our satellites we believe they will deploy their primary offensive weapons at 1200 hours EST.  Some cruise missile tests we performed earlier confirm that these ships are completely protected by a force field that protects them from all projectile weapons such as conventional explosives.  Unfortunately, we have also determined that this shield is effective against energy weapons such as lasers or even nuclear devices.  Essentially, nothing in the American military arsenal will have any effect on these ships.  The best we can do is hide our weapons assets to delay their destruction by the small fighter ships housed in the main vessels when they are unleashed.

PT – Sucks to be us.  Any comments?

AG – Mr. President, I suggest we send a negotiation team to the local ship here over D.C. and hammer out a deal to avert this looming catastrophe.  And because we are ideally suited to see all sides of a problem, that is why myself, President Obama, I mean former President Obama and Madame Secretary Clinton, I mean the assumed late Mix Secretary Clinton joined this meeting.  We feel that our well-known empathy for aliens of all sort will allow us to prevent this crisis from ending in bloodshed or the shedding of whatever vital fluid our extragalactic visitors possess.

PT – Wow, that’s a lot of corrections.  Does Gore speak for you on this Barry?

BO – I prefer to be addressed as Nobel Peace Prize Winning Light Worker Barack Hussein Obama, Donald.

PT – I’ll bet you do but you didn’t answer the question.

BO – Maybe not how I would have said it but essentially.

PT – Good, I want you two to contact the aliens and see what you can do before we let the bright boys loose on them.

AG – You aren’t going with us?

PT – Do I look crazy?  Look no one is forcing you to go there.  If I were you, I’d see if you can negotiate at a distance but if you enter that ship you only have until noon to broker some kind of truce.  After that we’re going to war.

BO – Don’t worry we’ll be finished well before that point.

PT – Good.  General Baldwin, have your flight crew outfit our ambassadors with flight suits and prepare them for their mission.

GAD – Yes sir.  This way gentlemen.  (Gore and Obama exit the bridge).

PT – Good.  Now that those two yahoos are out of earshot Musk, fill us in on what you’ve cooked up.

EM – Mr. President, my team has worked out the physics behind the shield device and we’ve developed a counter measure.

PT – You mean you can turn it off to allow us to attack?

EM – No.  Let me give you the specifics.  The shield works by absorbing the energy of anything that impinges on the ship being protected.  During the time the energy is being absorbed, the impacted area is opaque to the shield sensors.  The ship cannot detect a second attack occurring there for at least ten seconds.  During this time the shield is still immune to energy weapons even nukes because it’s still able to absorb energy but it is vulnerable to projectile weapons to the extent that material can reach the hull.  Now the hull is incredibly strong.  It’s literally 100 feet thick and made of hardened alloy, basically proof to projectiles of any type we could muster.  But if within that ten second we can hit this opaque spot with a projectile composed of tantalum we will form a coated spot on the hull that will block the action of the shield in that area.  We assume that after the initial energy has been absorbed the shield sensors will spot the dead spot on the hull and repair systems will scrape the tantalum away rather quickly.  We approximate the time to remove the tantalum as fifteen minutes.  But during that time, we have a spot on the hull that will succumb to a nuclear blast.  So, the sequence needed is:

  • Time Zero – Initial high explosives detonation
  • 1 – 9 seconds – Tantalum projectile impact
  • 1 minute – 10 minutes – 1 megaton thermonuclear device

Any questions?

PT – Yeah, Poindexter.  Is tantalum something you made up like unobtainium or does it exist.

EM – No Mr. President. It’s a relatively common material.  There’s probably a good amount of it in your cell phone in the form of a capacitor.  It’s a refractory metal with a high melting point and chemical corrosion resistance that resembles that of glass.

PT – Yes we’re all really happy about the wonderful qualities of tantalum but what I want to know is if you’ve got any we can shoot at ET today?

EM – What kind of wunderkind would I be if I didn’t?

PT – Oh Lord give me strength.  Fine, just provide the Air Force with the details of how to incorporate your tantalum slug into our cruise missiles.  And make sure the programming of the sequence is perfect on this first one or all of us are going to wish we were somewhere else really soon after.  And hurry we have about an hour.  Mattis, has the negotiating team been blown up yet?

SM – No sir.  Their helicopter was permitted entry into the ship.

PT – Were any service member aboard?

SM – No sir.  It was remotely piloted.  We kind of like our people to live.

PT – Oh good.  Any communication back from Gore and Obama?

SM – None sir.

PT – Alright forget ‘em. We’re out of time.  Admiral, if you’ve got a chaplain that carries a King James Version have him meet me on the top deck.

AH – Yes Mr. President.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

Trump vs Independence Day Redux – Part 3