The other day, well OK last night (Saturday 24 June 2006) I drove by my old High School, on my way to somewhere. I didn't plan on passing by it. It had been renovated about 10 years ago, this I knew, I had seen it (from the outside) since the renovations. A few years before that they had renovated/updated the theatre/auditorium which I still have to see. Oh but I digress, anyway I drove by the old alma mater, which now looks more like a prison than a school and saw the events sign in the front. You know the signs where you can change the letters, usually behind a clear case locked in a bricked mini-wall. Anyway the sign read:
WELCOME CLASS OF 2010
So that means that the 2000 oughts are almost gone and giving way to the 2000 teens. Man I am so feeling old again.
It's that time again for a review of the book I have just finished reading, or something. This time I've been reading an old Pulp Fiction Sci-Fi Two-In-One news-stand book published in 1963. This book has two full stories, fortunately by the same author (sometimes the stories are two separate authors with no connection what-so-ever). The Author is John Brunner the titles "The Space-Time Juggler" and "The Astronauts Must Not Land". The book is designed so that instead of reading it cover-to-cover you read it cover-to-middle, then flip the book over and read it cover-to-middle. The more I think about it the more I vaguely remember a news-stand near me when I was a kid having this type of paperback book, in addition to having magazines, and the comics, trading cards and candy I used to go there for. Back in the days of real penny bubble gum and five and ten cent candy bars. In more recent years I've seen this type of book in used book stores.
"...'tis reported, they say, that there is a man whom no bars will hold, who comes and goes where he will, and who has strange powers that surpass the human." ~from The Space-Time Juggler
The first story of this two-in-one "The Space-Time Juggler" feels more like a fantasy piece than proper sci-fi. The main story line is medieval in nature, except that the empire is made up of six planets, and they mention spacecraft and helicopters. I'm really disappointed with this story. It doesn't get to feeling like a sci-fi story until near the end when it reads more like an acid-trip of some kind. Then the true nature of the character named Kaleb The Conjurer is revealed, sort of. Through out the story he acts like an eccentric magician, con man. He of course is the title character The Space-Time Juggler. I had started reading this a couple of years back when I had gotten the book from off of Ebay, but never got into enough to finish it. I almost should have left it unread. I didn't gain anything from reading it, yet this was the story I had bought the thing for in the first place. It did not live up to what I was expecting.
"I got the recorder out of my pocket, turned the master switch from voice to vision recording, and began to scan. My hand was shaking so badly I wasn't sure it was worth the trouble..." ~From The Astronauts Must Not Land.
Now the second story "The Astronauts Must Not Land" was much better. If I didn't know any better I could swear it was a story used for The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, but I don't think it ever was. For a story written in the early 1960s and set in the 21st Century, (I'm not sure how far into it) it has a lot of modern references. Until I had done a little internet research I thought Fax machines were something that was developed in the 1970s (I recall a Star Trek Comic book from 1976 making a reference to fax machines), but the technology for it goes back to the late 1800s, the first fax copies (text) were sent in the early 1900s via telegraph wire, the first telephone line faxes were sent sometime during the 60s. But I digress. The story is written in the first person by the character of David Drummond a science writer, reporter and big brother to one of the sixty astronauts aboard a spaceship called the Starventure, a ship designed to travel to Alpha Centauri via hyperspace. Well things don't go as planned for the crew as their bodies are changed by some aliens in hyperspace during their trip. What diabolical plan did these aliens have for doing this? And why are these aliens appearing as gigantic monsters in the sky? I don't want to spoil these questions for anybody wanting to read this story. I will say this though this story is a highly scientific sci-fi story much of the science talk went over my head. I normally don't like the super scientific terminology stories but this one was pretty fun, but slightly difficult (as far as the science lingo) to read. In my internet adventures in tracking down info on this story, thinking it might have been used as the basis for an Outer Limits type television show or movie, I found out that an updated re-write of it had been done some ten to twenty years later. It would make a good movie.
The Space-Time Juggler/The Astronauts Must Not Land by John Brunner 1963 Ace Books, Inc. (84/138 pages)
Oh Man. I've been sort of ignoring my website (klandersen.com) lately. Since starting my blog over here at blogger, I have all but abandoned my "Semi-Blog" over there. Its a lot easier to blog at a site where you don't have to worry about the coding, than a site where you have to format your entries. I need to update the semi-blog to refer it here. OH well. Nothing to see here move it along.
On Wednesday 07 June 2006 I picked up a couple of DVD Season Boxed sets from Target. I got:
NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service - The complete first season (6 disc boxed set).
I couldn't wait, I have already watched the first disc, the first four episodes including going back to episode one to watch with the commentary from series creator Donald P. Bellisario. Pauley Perrette Rocks.
Charmed: The Complete Fifth Season (6 disc set).
Yeah this is the season with the episode called Lucky Charmed with Guest stars Pat Benatar & Neil Geraldo as themselves. This episode is one of the main reasons I got season five out of order. I will eventually get the other seasons, I don't know when though.
Argh. I want to work on populating my book collection at bibliophil.org, but I'm too tired. I did manage to watch a DVD, a rental from Netflix.
Harry Chapin: Rockpalast Live (1977). It is a studio recorded concert taped in Germany. It was taped during Harry's Dance Band on the Titanic Tour. It is generally good quality video and sound, not great but generally good. It even has a version of Six-String Orchestra, which Harry hardly did in the later years. All in all it rates a 3 out of 5. As a Chapin Fan I personally give the viewing experience a 5 but as a DVD critic I have to take a few points off for some of the video quality, and the sound. Now the sound is OK for the time but there were a few songs where the balance between voices and instruments wasn't quite right. OK so now I'm being picky. I really should have skipped renting this one, and just gone ahead and purchased a copy. I still need to get a copy of Remember when: The Anthology DVD as well as this one. ACK! I don't know if it is just the song or the song and the fact I miss Harry that I got choked up during Corey's Coming. That is one of my fave songs next to Six String Orchestra, Bananas, and Circle.
OK so me thinks that is it for this one.... Oh I'm still in the process of reading the two-in-one Pulp Sci-Fi book by John Brunner The Space-Time Juggler/The Astronauts Must Not Land. I am now reading the Astronauts side. You see this particular edition is a two-in-one pulp fiction/sci-fi news-stand edition that is designed so that after you read one story you flip the book over to read the other story. So the second story is upside down when your reading the first story. The book has two front covers if you think about it, the back cover which is upside when when you are reading the first story, is the front cover for the second story. You actually don't read the book cover to cover you read it cover to middle then cover to middle. It was published in 1963. When I finish this second story, which I think is the better of the two, I will give my "A recent read" book review. This Astronaut story so far has may standard early 1960s elements, I think it may have been made into a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits Episode. If it wasn't it probably should have been.
OK so I wasn't expecting it to happen overnight, but then again I didn't think I would stumble at it either. What am I talking about? Well a little while back, about a week or so ago, I started logging in my book collection onto a database site called bibliophil.org, so far I've entered in most of my sci-fi books (except for the Star Trek ones which are in a different book case) and a ton of my paperback books. I've logged in about 450 books and that is only about 1/4 to 1/3 of what I have (basically one 6ft tall bookshelf unit out of 4, well 3 really the 4th is actually a 4ft one plus a 2ft one with a couple of the shelves double rowed.) It is similar to another site I use quite often for my DVD collection dvdspot.com. Ah the life of a collector.
I saw an ad for a new DVD release on the boob-tube and it mentioned the Blu-Ray version would be coming soon. That gave me a thought and a shiver. I thought back to the days of vinyl records and how for many years the only thing that changed about the format was the sound quality improved and the prices kept going up. Collectors and consumers of the product could purchase new records with the satisfaction of knowing that they could remove the outer wrapping, place the disc on the turntable, give it a spin and put the needle down on the record. Oh and switch the speed back to 33rpm after realizing you had left it set at 45 making Dolly Parton sound like a chipmonk. Now-a-days the formats are going through changes almost daily. There is also a current trend to have everything downloaded to your computer. My big problem with that is there is nothing physical to hold onto or to read while listening to it. It's like reading a book on the computer screen or as a stack of printed out pages, it just isn't the same as holding a real book in your hands and turning the pages. It has lost all it's intimacy. You don't even know if you will be able to play you collection anymore.
Now many people are downloading music onto their Ipods without batting an eye. OK since it's all digital the quality is as good as the original source but where is the cover art? Where are the liner notes? I guess people don't care about those things anymore. Back in the days before Ipods and downloading music, if you wanted to make a copy of a song, you either had to tape it off the radio, or purchase (or borrow) the record or tape and record it manually. The quality wasn't always great and your cover art work was some generic TDK logo or whatever brand of tape you were using, no liner notes. You either had to hand write the tracks or take the time to type them up.