Mar 312011

This comic gave me a little giggle. If you like Isaac Asimov, check it out.

http://www.sheldoncomics.com/archive/101109.html

Posted by Stettin
Mar 052011

I’ve been huge Star Wars fan since childhood, but was a bit disappointed overall with some of the inconsistencies that cropped up when the prequels were released.  Keith Martin helps make sense of it all. He ties the prequels together with Star Wars: A New Hope (later to be called Episode IV) in his post “A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope.” It is packed full of insights, some of which I’ve seen tossed around here and there, but he also adds a bit of humor in just the right places.

If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon (as it seems we must) then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.

Check out the full post over at Keith’s live journal page:

Posted by Stettin
Feb 142011

Tonight with my wife, I watched an interesting episode of Nova titled “The World’s Smartest Machine.” Romantic, right? You can tell we are a couple of geeks at heart. Being a huge fan of Asimov and his robot creations, I am continually amazed at the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence. As a kid I was playing chess as early as the 3rd grade. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good chess player. When I heard about a computer that supposedly could beat a world champion chess player, I was intrigued. Garry Kasparov battled IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer in 1996 and won, however he eventually lost a rematch in 1997. Well, IBM is back at it, this time taking on Jeopardy. Nova takes us behind the scenes with the developers of “Watson,” the next step in AI. I was disappointed when the episode ended and it didn’t say who won. I didn’t realize until logging on PBS.org that the contest actually was taking place while I was watching Nova (on my media center PC). After some frantic Google searches, I eventually came across a Twitter feed with a link to a Youtube posting of the episode. This was not quite 2 hours after the episode aired! Isn’t technology great? I expect the Youtube post to be served a DMCA take down, so watch it soon if you plan on it. In addition to the episode at the end of this post, I’ve embedded the Nova preview and an humorous parody of the challenges Watson overcame during his development. I suggest watching the Nova episode first. If you are at all interested in AI, you must check these out!

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA.

Jeopardy Robot Watson’s Untold Game Show History (VIDEO)

Jeopardy Feb. 14 2011 – Human vs Machine IBM Challenge Day 1 Part 1/2

Jeopardy Feb. 14 2011 – Human vs Machine IBM Challenge Day 1 Part 2/2

There are two more nights to the match, airing Tuesday February 15th, and Wednesday the 16th. Be sure to check them out, along with some live blogging on PBS.org. I find myself rooting for Watson, not because I want to see humans defeated, but because I want to see humans capable of making something smart enough to do it. Who do you think will win? Who do you want to win?

Posted by Stettin
Jan 172011

My wife and I were spending some time with our friends this weekend. We were trying to figure out what to do while we ate our lunch, so we flipped through some Netflix streaming titles. Eventually, Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus popped up. This movie sounded familiar. Where had I heard of it before? I could have sworn I saw a trailer on YouTube or something like that a while back, but I wrote it off as being some type of joke. Sadly, this was not the case. There was some reluctance for everyone to watch it despite my desperate pleadings. Everyone gave in and we embarked on an experience that nearly defies explanation.
Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Sep 242010

I just was sent this from a friend via StumbleUpon and enjoyed this. If you are a Star Wars fan, you will too.

Posted by Stettin
Jul 112010

Timequake Book Cover

This book was my first experience with writing by Kurt Vonnegut. His writing, at least in this book, is very original and unconventional. The “Timequake” according to the dust jacket is an event where on February 13th, 2001, everyone is thrust back to February 17th, 1991. Vonnegut treats this as a contraction of the Universe, not simply time travel in the traditional sense. In many time travel stories, the characters look for ways “to put right what once went wrong,” a la Quantum Leap. Vonnegut doesn’t give the characters in this story that opportunity. Everyone is forced to live their lives on autopilot, doing the exact same things they did before, but with the knowledge of what was to come. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin
Jan 022010

Nobody is sure when exactly Isaac Asimov was born due to poor record keeping. January 2nd, 1920 was the day Isaac Asimov decided to celebrate his birthday. Along with creating the Three Laws of Robotics, Asimov also unintentionally coined the term robotics. It was first used in print when his short story “Liar!” was published in 1941. He was constantly writing in just about every area of literature. I have primarily read his Science Fiction, but he has done textbooks, humor, mystery, non-fiction, and more.

My first exposure to Asimov’s writing was when my father gave me an old worn out copy of I, Robot. I tucked the book away for a few years and eventually got around to reading it. I was so enthralled with the robots that I eventually read every robot book by him and other authors. This naturally led me to read the Foundation series which I also enjoyed, but I’ve always preferred the robot series. The Robot and Foundation books make up the biggest reading project I have ever completed. Aside from those, I’ve read a bit of his autobiography and plan on sampling some of his other writing in the near future.

By the time I discovered Asimov, he had already died. I wonder how much more he could have written had he not contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart surgery. He died of myocardial and renal complications on April 6, 1992, but the true cause of his death wasn’t publicized due to the stigma of HIV/AIDS at the time. His work has greatly influenced my love of Science Fiction, and for that I am thankful.

For more information on the life of Isaac Asimov, please visit the official Wikipedia post

Posted by Stettin
Dec 302009

Book Cover

A couple days ago I was able to visit with some friends I haven’t seen in a few years. After one of them cracked open a bottle of wine, we eventually ended up talking about gaming. One thing led to another and one of my friends asked, “Have any of you heard of Mazes and Monsters?” In mere moments we were watching one of the most horrible acting performances I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t sure if I should be shocked or amazed. In retrospect, the alcohol definitely enhanced the experience. We ended up adding our own commentary, MST3K style. About half way through I regretted that we didn’t start recording our comments to dub in later on. My friend actually had the recording equipment to do it too.

The movie starts out with a scene with a bunch of police cars and fire trucks responding to a missing persons report. A university student got lost in some caverns in a game of Mazes and Monsters that got out of hand. I was battling with trying to figure out if this was supposed to be some type of spoof or just an anti Dungeons and Dragons flick. After watching it all, despite how close it comes to seeming like parody, I think they were actually serious. In the midst of all the no-name actors this guy by the name of Tom Hanks shows up in one of his first roles. I’m sure if you ask him about it today, he’ll try to deny any involvement with this feature.

I’m pretty sure that anyone that has played classic DnD would be amused by this movie. Just watch it with a few friends over a few drinks, and I am sure everyone will have a blast. Here is a clip, it doesn’t contain any real spoilers.

Posted by Stettin
Oct 152009

If only the Emperor somehow was able to save Padme as well, Darth Vader would have been a little less grumpy!

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Vader

darth-vader-meets-femvader

Posted by Stettin
Aug 252009

Flatland Book Cover

I’ve been meaning to read Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott for some time now. I’ve seen it lying around the house here and there for many years. My wife actually acquired this book as part of her required reading for a “Sensation and Perception” course in college. I ran across it again when packing up my Asimov collection to bring up to my sister in Minneapolis. It was a short read, which was refreshing after some of the longer books I’ve been tackling recently. Continue reading »

Posted by Stettin

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