Stars End S3E27

“Everyone Believes in the Freedom of the Podcast – It Should Be Right There in the Constitution”

It’s human nature, it seems, to celebrate round numbers, 40th birthdays, 20th wedding anniversaries, 10th high school reunions, and so forth.  New Year’s Day 2000 was a huge deal even though, as Arthur C. Clarke was quick to point out, the third millennium CE didn’t start until 2001.

Early on, we poked a bit of fun at this tendency, culminating in episode eight, because eight is a very round number:  It’s “10” in base eight, “20” in base four, and “1000” in base two.  That was also when we tied Manimal for their number of episodes.

But now we’re celebrating our 50th episode and that is a milestone.  Fifty isn’t just 6.25 on the Manimal scale, it’s when a lot of comics and magazines (remember those?) have their first special issue! It’s a half-century, a semi-centennial, and a golden jubilee!  You might even say that we’re almost playing with a full deck!

So we celebrate, reminisce a bit, and wax some nostalgia.  And we take care of some business since there’s a trailer out for season 2 of Foundation.  

But the main event here is the most shocking of plot twists!  The most special of special guests!  It’s the one guest that no one, I say, no one, could have expected!  And not just because he’s 103 years old and refuses to leave his apartment!  It’s our interview with the professor of biochemistry, the great explainer, and the father of robotics.  He’s the founder of foundations, he’s one-third of the big three, he’s the best science writer according to the Clarke-Asimov Treaty, and he’s The Sensuous Dirty Old Man.

It is, of course, the Great and Glorious Az, Issac Asimov himself! And he joins us for a conversation! Believe it or don’t believe it, but DO NOT miss it!

Stars End S3E26

“It is from this Point On, Earth Itself that is the True World of the Podcast.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, it is said, “always get their man.”  I haven’t checked, but I’m confident that’s been updated.  “Always get their human” might not work perfectly in the context of Asimov’s Robot Novels, so let’s settle on “always get the perpetrator.”  A perpetrator could be an animal, vegetable, or mineral.

In Elijah Baley’s time, millennia in the future, it isn’t clear whether New York City has grown to include parts of Canada but it isn’t likely.  If it had, Lije would have been part of this same tradition.  And yet, as we’ve noticed, Lije hardly ever “gets” the guilty party.  Usually, he has figured out who it is, but the actual “getting” part never actually happens.  It’s like watching an episode of Law & Order where the latter half kinda goes off the rails.  As we approach the denouement of The Robots of Dawn we have to ask… will Lije finally have an unqualified win?

You want to know!  You need to know! We know!  And we talk about it!  Let’s go!

And in one week… Episode 50!

My Voyager Rewatch: S4E08

My #StarTrekVoyager rewatch S4E08, “Year of Hell, Part 1”

Ninety seconds in and it’s already dark. Red from that 70s Show is playing with time to achieve a “Target Event.” Now he’s set to wipe an entire species from existence. At least they didn’t waste time getting to the plot.

Now Seven and Kim have upgraded their Mapquest and the Doctor takes the opportunity to be pompous. The plot intrudes as they enter Zahl space and encounter a Krenim who’s a Jackass. We meet a swarmy but nice Zahl wearing a leisure suit. He’s erased by a temporal wave, and the Krenim become more powerful and bigger jackasses. Things get worse for Voyager.

This is the plot. Lather, rinse, repeat. Red has gone completely Ahab and things get terrible for Voyager fast. In a painfully obvious bit of foreshadowing Janeway’s lucky teacup breaks. Ugh.

Yeah, yeah, the crew is clever and resilient. There’s a nice moment of levity with Paris that I won’t spoil. I’m wondering why the computer can’t manifest multiple EMHs. Voyager new shielding protected it from a temporal wave that would have fixed the ship. C’est la vie.

It takes them a long time to figure that out. I know, that’s for the audience. But Red sees them as a problem now. Watching the hull peel off is compelling and dramatic. Turns out the better bit of foreshadowing in the tea cup scene was Chakotay’s plan. The crew has to abandon the ship leaving only the senior staff.

To be continued. I can see why this 2-part story is so well-regarded. It’s well-plotted & keeps the extraneous nonsense to a minimum. It also ramps up the tension in a smooth believable way. Very effective. I hope part 2 is as good.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

#StarTrek

Images used under the fair use doctrine.

My Voyager Rewatch: S4E07

My #StarTrekVoyager rewatch S4E07 “Scientific Method”

I’m already laughing when B’Elanna lectures Seven about working in a group then nicely surprised when she has the self-awareness to realize that used to be her. And Seven learns to say “I’m sorry.” Tom is up to something shifty.

Well, not that shifty, though he clearly wants B’Elanna to join the “Jeffries Tube Club.” Then, a sinister scan. They play Janeway’s massage therapy for laughs. She’s not feeling well while Tom and B’Elanna are acting like crazed weasels. Tuvok needs to learn about email.

More sitcom nonsense until Chakotay starts losing his hair. It looks like a mohawk. We’re finally into the plot. Mysterious illnesses, lightened by Chakotay and Neelix playing “you think that’s bad…” The crew has come down with barcodes on their DNA. That can’t be good.

The Doctor gives Seven the ability to see the aliens. What they are doing looks more like random torture than the scientific method. They come up with a simple plan and a convoluted plan and try the convoluted one. Of course, it fails. Luckily Seven can fall back to the simple plan.

Seven reveals the leader of the aliens who tells Janeway if the crew cooperates “the fatality rate will be minimal, though there may be some deformities.” It’s the Dr. Mengele road show. When a crew member dies Janeway becomes “reckless.”

The interactions between her, Tuvok, and the alien leader are fun to watch while we get a resolution. The coda with Tom and B’Elanna is painful. Not perfect but a strong episode. The plot is pretty tight and the writers resisted the urge to go uber-dark. Good. The lighter touch worked nicely. I enjoyed this one.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

#StarTrek

Images used under the fair use doctrine.

Kevin McCarthy (to the tune of Eleanor Rigby)

First of all, credit where it’s due, this wasn’t my idea. the idea comes from Orli Matlow, or @HireMeImFunny on that bird app when I saw this tweet.

I hope Ms. Matlow won’t mind, but my brain refused to rest until I’d filled in the blank.

So, here’s a rare attempt at political satire. I hope I don’t embarrass Tom Lehrer who, as I’ve mentioned, is the only mathematician I consider a role model.

In case it helps, here’s an instrumental version of the song.

And now, without further ado, but with apologies to John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and perhaps anyone who might read this, here “Kevin McCarthy” to the tune of “Eleanor Rigby.”

Ah, look at all the nutty people
Ah, look at all the craven people

Kevin McCarthy counting the votes in the House where his longing had been,
Stifles a scream.

Wails at his caucus, selling the face that he sold many times before,
Who is it for?

All the crazy people, where do they all come from?
All the scheming people, where do they all belong?

“Speaker McCarthy,” mouthing the words which he knows that he never will hear,
Succumbs to fear.

Look at him pleading, selling his soul late at night when there’s nobody there,
No one to care.

All the lousy people, where do they all come from?
All the crazy people, where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the craven people
Ah, look at all the wonky people

Kevin McCarthy failed in his quest and bereft as his world went astray,
Faded away.

Speaker Pelosi, wiping the grin from her face as she swaggers away,
She knew the way.

All the crazy people, where do they all come from?
(ah, look at all the crazy people)
All the lonely people, where do they all belong?
(ah, look at all the lonely people)

Featured Image: By Martin Falbisoner – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28359031

Stars End S3E25

“The Law Wisely Considers a Podcast an Incompetent Witness”

Happy New Year!  Today, 2 January, is National Science Fiction Day here in the States, and not coincidentally, the birthday of Dr. Asimov, aka the great explainer, aka the Great and Glorious Az.  Happy Birthday, Issac!

It’s also National Buffet Day and World Introvert Day.  Make of that what you will.

Thus, today we’re dropping a special episode of the Stars End Podcast, our first musical episode!  Well, kinda.  There’s a bit at the end where we talk about music and songs that would be apropos to the real action, where we discuss Chapters 13, 14, 15, and 16 of The Robots of Dawn.  Don’t worry, none of us sing.

So, head on out to Golden Corral, find yourself a nice quiet corner away from the humans and read about R. Daneel and R. Giskard.  Then join us back here for our musical episode.  Or, just listen to the episode. That’s cool too.

For our part, we’re recording another episode this evening, each safely in our own space, securely separated by state and/or national boundaries.  This one’s a very special episode; it’s our 50th and we’ve got something different planned for the milestone!  Stay Tuned!

But first, episode #48.

And as a bonus, you can find our soundtrack to The Robots of Dawn on our website, StarsEndPodcast.com.  Let’s go!

That, of course, can never be complete unless we can find someone to record (The Robots Want to Wear My) Red Shoes for us.