Tag Archives: space travel

BQB Does Kennedy Space Center

Alien Jones said it was primitive in comparison to his spaceship, but I was still impressed:

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Movie Review: Alien: Covenant (2017)

Zzzz.  Zzzz.  Zzzz.

That’s my impression of myself sleeping through this boring poopfest.

Sigh, let’s get it over with.  BQB here with a review of Alien: Covenant.

Does Ridley Scott even make movies for the audience anymore?  Sometimes I think they might just be for his own philosophical, navel gazing purposes.

In the original Alien (1979) we saw Sigourney Weaver play space traveler Ripley, taking out aliens with a flamethrower.  Flash forward 38 years and we’ve got friggin melancholy androids waxing poetic about their feelings and beside themselves with ennui.

The first few Alien films were great because they were essentially horror films set in space.  In fact, I caught a clip of an interview recently where Scott said something to the effect that the first film was essentially setting up a haunted house in the form of a spaceship, turning a monster lose in the form of an alien and seeing who makes it out alive.

Alas, now we get films that you practically have to be a philosophy major to understand.

Ironically, 2012’s Prometheus was panned by the critics, arguing it was heavy on the thinking and light on the action.  Personally, I liked it and the questions it asked about the universe, creation, the meaning of life, our place and purpose and so on.

However, I had hoped this film would be a return to form (i.e. give us someone else to shoot a flame thrower at those damn aliens) but sadly, no.  More navel gazing.

In this go around, a ship named the Covenant carries a crew full of colonists in search of a new home world.  They land on what they hope will be their new home but…blah blah blah, they become lunch instead.

Sure, the xenomorphs are given free reign to snack on the humans.  However, most of the human vs. alien scenes are predictable if you’ve ever seen any of the previous films.

Bottomline:  if you see a dude coughing, you know an alien’s going to pop out of his chest and start attacking everyone.  If you see a dude look into a dark hole with a dumb look on his face, you know that face is about to get sucked on by a face sucker.

Those aren’t spoilers.  Those are tried and true Alien franchise rules that have been in effect since the Carter administration.

Michael Fassbender brings a certain level of coolness by playing dueling androids David and Walter, a pair of synthetics who have opposing viewpoints about…well, just go watch it.

For the most part, it’s an ensemble cast, mostly filled with newcomers and no-names.  Funnyman Danny McBride puts on his serious face as the crew’s pilot, but I keep expecting him to break out into his Kenny Powers persona and whip out his junk, drink a beer and burp or do something else hysterically outrageous.  Spoiler alert: he doesn’t, so we can only assume that Danny is trying to expand on his range as a thespian.  He does well, though I hope this doesn’t mean an end is coming to his Kenny Powers-ian style characters in the future.

Billy Crudup plays Captain Oram, a by the book dweeb disliked by his crew.  We’re lead to think that angle might go somewhere but it doesn’t and ultimately, it’s such a large cast filled with either unrecognizable (never saw them in anything) or vaguely recognizable (I know I’ve seen that face in another film but I have no idea who they are) that none of the characters really get enough screen time to grow, develop, or even become moderately interesting.

If there is a new age Ripley in the movie, it’s Katherine Waterston’s Daniels, a crew member who, umm, uhh…yeah we don’t get to learn much because again, she’s one of a much too large cast.  But she has some great scenes where she kicks ass and saves a day and so on.

I really think Scott has to go to his room and think about what he has done and what the future of this franchise should be.  Should he return to its “haunted house in space” origins?  Tempting but difficult, seeing as how, as stated above, the rules about how these aliens attack have been well known since 1979 so we can spot them coming from a mile away.

Should the franchise continue to expand upon the philosophical “Why are we here?” type questions?  Possibly, though frankly, I spend most of my time trying to distract myself from the fact that I’m little more than a tiny, insignificant little gnat stuck to the giant, overreaching windshield of the space-time continuum, so I really don’t need a pair of depressed, ennui laden, morose androids reminding me.

Plotwise, it’s all kind of slapped together and relies on you remembering what happened in Prometheus, which is unrealistic because I can’t remember where I left my car keys half the time.  (Wait, let me check the fridge.)

Scott does increase the alien attacks over the last film.  But he also continues the philosophical hullaballoo so it seems like he was confused as to whether he wanted a thriller or a thinker, so he tried for both and in the end, scored neither.

I will give the film this.  The scenes where Michael Fassbender plays two different versions of himself are great and the technology that can allow an actor to do this has really come a long way.

Otherwise, hold your nose because it’s a big stink-a-roo.

STATUS:  I hate to do this.  I don’t want to do this.  Ridley Scott, why are you making me do this?  It’s not shelf-worthy.  There, I said it.  And that’s not fair, because I have given shittier films shelf-worthy status because I’m a nice guy and I don’t want to be rude but you know, I expected less from those films and more from this one.  I really thought this would be good but at best, it was blah.  It’s worth a rental but don’t rush out to the theater for it.

I think this might be a sign of what we can only hope will be the end of Hollywood’s never-ending sequel/prequel/reboot obsession.  There’s only so many ways to spice up and reheat leftovers before they congeal into a big pile of crap.  Sometimes the pizza tastes good the first time and even better cold but then after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh return to that box buried in the dark corner of the fridge, the pieces begin to taste stale and dry and hey, is that mold growing on my 38 year old pizza?  Whodathunkit?

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Will We Ever Get to Mars?

Will we ever get to Mars, 3.5 readers?

If so, what will we do when we get there?

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Let’s Talk About Undesiredverse – BQB’s Space Opera Serial

Hello 3.5 readers,shutterstock_121570807

BQB here.  Let’s talk, nerds.

ABOUT THE UNDESIREDVERSE

The year is 2999.  Roman Voss, a bounty hunter with an addiction.  Alien Jones, a pilot who’d once achieved greatness as second in command of the Known Universe’s greatest democracy, now stripped of his powers and looking for redemption.

Caught in the middle is a mysterious and very confused woman.

Jones’ old boss, the Mighty Potentate, presides over the Rakan Collective, a group of pro-democracy, pro-science, pro-education peace loving aliens who despise war, though they have amassed an unbeatable army to protect what they have from the “undesirables,” the residents of Milky Way, Andromeda, and all points in between, the area referred to by His Potentosity as “garbage planets” or simply, “the Undesiredverse.”

Cast out of paradise and deemed unworthy of the Rakan Collective, Undesiredverseans fight amongst themselves pointlessly, aimlessly and yes, sometimes even hilariously.  The religious zealots of Vendros, for example, have been slaughtering each over for a thousand years of a translation error in their holy book that leads the color of the shirt warn by their holy being in question.

But then again, not all of the baddies are funny.  The underworld organization known as the Cabal has a hand in every aspect of life, from business to politics, though they are so secretive they do not even acknowledge their own existence.

Meanwhile, many years ago, the Tollusks, a violent, warmongering species, decided to reform their ways and seek peace and prosperity.  The Tarazni Clan quickly formed, seized the planet’s nuclear arsenal, took flight, bombed their own planet to smithereens to punish “the infidels” on the way out and have been conquering planets ever since.

In fact, Earth is their latest acquisition.  There is an Earth government.  The One World Order began when countries decided to cease their petty squabbles in light of the discovery of new alien threats.  Alas, anyone who’d of put up resistance to the Tarazni’s Clan’s rule has been either killed, marginalized, ostracized, or paid off.  The One World Order that remains is accused by the people of being a government of “collaborators” and “rubber stampers.”

Sourcemind is the first villain that we are introduced to in the story.  He is a highly evolved artificial intelligence who was constructed by the humans of Omcoros to oversee automation of all of their world’s systems.  Big mistake, as that led to Sourcemind taking control.  From his mainframe on the world he’s conquered, he can assimilate any machine that comes in contact with him (or any machine that comes into contact with a machine he’s assimilated.

AND SO IT BEGINS…

Sourcemind, the Cabal, the Tarazni Clan, the One World Order and other degenerates want the woman in Voss and Jones’ care.  These three become the most wanted beings in the Undesiredverse and our story becomes a manic dash to safety.

Only the bad guys know why they want the mystery woman.  Voss, Jones, and even the woman herself are in the dark.

WHY IS BQB WRITING THIS?

All too often, I stop and start a story.  This blog helps me get things finished.  Last month, I finished a project.  #31ZombieAuthors.  It took a lot of work, but because I promised 31 people I’d do it, I got it done.

The story essentially involves a trio’s journey for survival as they are hunted by various baddies.  Thus, I basically step into Voss’ shoes and every day, imagine a little bit more about what is happening and what he is up against.

I don’t want to say the story goes in a straight line, but it does.  But there are many bumps on that line our heroes must hurdle.  But because it essentially begins with Point A (the heroes are in jeopardy and ends with Point B (the heroes are safe) I feel I can write a little bit every day and eventually bring our heroes from jeopardy to safety.

QUOTES ABOUT UNDESIREDVERSE: WANTED

BQB said these things about his story because he couldn’t find anyone else who would:

“It’s like Star Wars with a twist of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

“Finally, a space opera that can make me laugh, as well as experience mental stress over the fear that characters I’ve grown attached to might be gruesomely murdered at any minute.”

“It doesn’t totally suck.”

BQB NEEDS YOUR HELP

You, the 3.5 readers, are watching me write a first draft.  There will be errors in writing, plot, grammar, style, even story.  I’ve already identified several.

If you see something that leaves you scratching your head, don’t keep quiet about it.  Let me know.  You have all been drafted into being my 3.5 beta readers.

I won’t consider you rude for pointing out a faux pas.  I’d appreciate it.  You won’t be kicked out of the 3.5 readers club.  I can’t afford to lose any more readers as it is.  You might point out something that I intentionally left iffy because I intend it to turn into a big reveal later but that’s ok.  We’re making sausage on this site so I’ll give you a glimpse inside the sausage casing and let you know that a) yes, you pointed out a big goof on my part and thank you or b) I intended that and it’ll be addressed later.

Either way, if you see something off, let me know.

THE FUTURE FOR BQB

My main goal is to get this written, re-written, edited, formatted and published at some point early next year.  I don’t have a date set but as early as possible.  If I get it up on Amazon before June I’ll be happy.

I have not forgotten about Pop Culture Mysteries.  Next year, I hope to launch the Pop Culture Mysteries website which will feature a Season One of Jake’s Mysteries, leading into a Jake novel.

Undesiredverse: Wanted will basically be me teaching myself how to write and self-publish a novel.  Pop Culture Mysteries will up the game a bit and from hereon, I hope to publish two books a year.

That’s assuming life agrees with that plan.  Come on life.  Don’t be a dick.

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Undesiredverse: Wanted – Chapter 13

Halminotrin. Street name – huff. That stuff will grow hair on your chest and turn it curly, let me tell you. I kept a slab of it in a plastic bag in the glove compartment. I broke off a small pebble, crushed it into the tray of my vape-o-matic inhalator, mixed in some bottled water and presto, put the mask on my face, hit the on button and presto, I was ready to trip balls.

The inhalator chugged away. I sniffed in the goodness. It made me feel light. Airy. Happy even.

“You’re really going to do that now?” Jones asked.

“I can’t think of a better time to do it,” I said, my voice muffled by my apparatus. “I’ve got an edge that needs to be taken off, my friend.”

“You couldn’t just do some jumping jacks?”

I pulled the mask up, just a bit off my mouth so I can speak more clearly. I mocked my pilot, talking in a high pitched, girlish tone, which really isn’t fair, as Jonesy actually speaks in a deep, bass filled baritone, not unlock Barry White, the classical musician from the late Twentieth Century. You should listen to him sometime. You can download ten thousand songs dating back from 1900-2300 for the low, low price of fifty credits.

“‘You couldn’t just do some jumping jacks?’ God, you’re like a tiny green version of my mother.”

“Whatever,” Jones said. “That mask, you think its a cool look for you?”

“Maybe,” I said as I let it drop back on my face, which muffled my voice again. “What’s it to you?”

“You look like a space fighter pilot with sleep apnea,” Jones quipped.

A middle finger was the only response I could muster as I reclined the front passenger’s seat and closed my eyes. I needed a nap.

But it wasn’t going to happen. Our new friend was crying.

We both looked back to the jump seat, where she sat, coiled up into a ball, her face buried in her knees as she rocked back and forth.

“She’s fine,” I said as I popped the mask upwards, letting it rest on my head, the huff vapor making a warm spot on my forehead.

“She’s not fine,” Jones replied. “Go talk to her.”

“Me?” I asked. “Didn’t you used to be a diplomat?”

“I used to be a lot of things,” Jones said. “But right now she needs someone who looks like she does. Another human.”

“That’s speciesist!” I said. “Something you accuse ME of all the time!”

“It’s not speciesist,” Jones said. “It’s just common sense.”

I switched the inhalator off and removed my mask entirely.

“Fine,” I said as I walked over to the woman. “Jesus Christ, I have to do everything around here. Hello ma’am.”

She didn’t budge.

“Ma’am?” I asked as I poked her. She looked up at me and recoiled defensively.

I put both hands up. “Whoa,” I said. “It’s ok. What’s your name?”

She cocked her head and looked at me with the same expression a puppy uses when its confused by what a human just said.

I repeated myself. For some reason, I thought saying it louder would help. “YOUR NAME?”

“My name?” she asked.

“Yes, your name.”

She pointed at me. “Your name.”

“No, your name,” I said.

“Your name,” she repeated.
I slapped my warm forehead.

“Jonesy, she must be a mongo or something,” I said.

“Nah,” Jones said. “She’d be drooling all over the place if she were a mongo.”

The mongos. Humans who were subjected to illegal mind control experiments from 2745- 2801. They and their offspring have been bringing down humanity’s collective test scores ever since.

I checked her for drool. I didn’t see any.

“Let’s try this again,” I said. I put my hand on my chest. “MY NAME IS ROMAN.”

“Your name is Roman,” the woman repeated.

“Right,” I said. “There’s no flies on you, kiddo.”

“There’s no flies on me, kiddo,”  she repeated.  She had a very sweet voice.

I pointed at the pilot. “The little green man is Jonesy.”

Jones swiveled around in his chair, waved a three fingered hand and said a polite, “Hello.”

The woman perked up a bit. She stopped crying.

“The little green man is Jonesy,” she said between sniffles.

“Good,” I said. I pointed my finger at her. “And your name is…”

She got excited, smiled and clapped her hands. She pointed her finger at me and emitted a big, loud, triumphant, “YOUR NAME!”

Whoever she was, she stared at me with a pair of baby blues with all the enthusiasm of a game show contestant who was certain she’d just won a big prize by figuring out a complex puzzle.

Jones laughed. I hanged my head in defeat. “Oh for the love of…”

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Undesiredverse: Wanted – Chapter 12

I was free falling.  Twenty-five thousand feet and plummeting over primo real estate.  Beings paid good money to get this kind of view but they were usually aboard sightseeing ships.  Between the spotlights, the city lights, and the incessantly blinking advertising boards below, I could barely see what I was doing.

Sourcemind aka Ninety-five was nowhere to be found.  He was so heavy that his burnt out carcass made a beeline to the planet below.  My mystery woman, on the other hand, was a bit of a waif.  Tall, skinny, yet curvy in all the right places.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”  Jones shouted.

“Improvising!  Get down there!”

Jonesy abided.  The Star Streaker roared past me on a vertical course.  I aimed myself in the general direction of my quarry, but I needed some help.

The LaMonza Corporation’s CTK Sparkmatic Attack Cord is an essential tool found inside the duster of discriminating bounty hunters everywhere.  You’ve probably heard of it by its more commonly used nickname, the spark whip.

I drew mine but I didn’t arm it.  I didn’t want to fry the poor gal after all.  I whirled around a few times and then let it loose with a deafening crack sound as it coiled around the woman.  It caused her considerable pain as she woke with a start, a frightened expression on her face.  I didn’t want to hurt her but I was low on options and the world below was getting closer and closer.

With a flick of my wrist I snapped her up to me and uncoiled the whip from around her body.  The exchange we had next went something like this:

ME:  Hello.

HER:  AAAARRRRRRRRGGGGHH!!!!!

ME:  You’re not much of a conversationalist.

Together, we fell past our ship. Jones was hovering steadily, waiting for orders. I cracked the whip again, catching it by the side bay door’s handle.

“You’re insane,”  Jones said.

“Fine,”  I replied.  “Next time you fight the death bot and save the girl and I’ll fly the ship.”

“Touche.”

“Put ‘er on autopilot and reel us in already,”  I said.

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Undesiredverse: Wanted – Chapter 10

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Jones was at ease in the pilot’s seat, monitoring an array of buttons, lights, and knobs. 

“Why would Sourcemind kidnap a female for?”  he asked.  “He doesn’t even have a…”

“That’s what I said.”

Good ole Jonesy.  A better friend you’ll never find though don’t tell him I said that.  It’ll go right to his head.  Speaking of, his was typical of the Vek species.  It was big, bulbous and sat atop a skinny, green, three foot tall body, which was rarely, if ever, covered.  He wasn’t big on clothing and didn’t need to be, because he was asexual.

In layman’s terms, he had no junk to speak of.  Even so, it wouldn’t have killed him to put on pants, but I’ve learned to pick my battles.

Izok’s head sat on the control panel, his eyes still open, it was almost as if my old buddy was staring at us from the great beyond.

“Can you put that away?”  Jones asked as he pointed one of the three fingers on his right hand at my trophy.  “It’s giving me the heebie jeebies.”

“10-4,” I replied as I set it on the floor.  I planned to get up and put it back in the pillow ase, but wanted to rest for a moment.  I was exhausted.

We hit a brief patch of turbulence that rocked the ship and sent Izok’s cranium rolling to the back of the ship like a bowling ball.

Jones shook his head in disapproval.

“I’ll get it later,”  I said.

A decade earlier, I found this little guy in a dive bar on Andus Magna.  He was drowning his sorrows in gorgoza milk, which made no sense to me because the stuff wasn’t even alcoholic.  He was down on his luck and so was I.  He needed work.  I needed a pilot.  We’ve been together ever since.  And though we tend to bicker like an old married couple, I can tell you this diminutive creature has never once failed to get my back.  I can’t even count the number of times he’s saved my ass, and that’s not just because I’m bad at math.

One thing you should know about the Undesiredverse is that the rumor mill works over time.  Over the years, I’ve heard little tidbits here and there about my colleague.  Apparently, around a thousand years or so ago, he was once the Rakan Collective’s second-in-command, holding the coveted title of “Esteemed Brainy One” on the Mighty Potentate’s Council of Advisors.

But something happened between then and now.  I’ve had beings tell me he was a traitor.  Others hold him out as a hero.  Bottomline, he did something that royally pissed of His Potentositude, leaving him to be cast out of paradise and into the Undesiredverse with the rest of us losers.

Whatever he did, I like to assume it was a good thing, that he had a choice between honor and duty and chose the former.  He never offered and I never asked. Had he wanted me to know, he’d of told me.

Either way, I can’t imagine it was easy to be him.  The Vek are the ruling species in the Rakan Collective, clones developed by the Mighty Potentate to hold important positions of power.  To lose all that and end up driving my sorry hide around could not have left him fulfilled.

“A cool million’s coming our way as soon as we get back,” I said.

“A hundred thousand,”  Jones corrected me.  “After the Tarazni Clan’s tax, the One World Order’s tax, New York City’s business activities tax, Earth’s exist fee, Malostet’s entrance fee, Kendra’s broker fee, jump station fees, docking fees, charging fees…”

“I told you to bail on that.”

“Like I’m going to rip off some hard working, blue collar charging station manager,”  Jones replied.

“I’ll split it seventy-thirty,” I said.  “Thirty grand in your hot little hand.”

“Fifty-fifty or you can fly yourself,”  Jones griped.

We sat quietly for a moment.  I let out a loud sigh.

“It’d be ridiculous to go after that girl, wouldn’t it?”  I asked.

“Damn straight,”  Jones answered.  “We can just take off right now and collect a modest profit.”

“I mean, who is she to us, really?  Just some random broad.  The Undesiredverse is full of them.”

“True,”  Jones said.  “And it’s not like I have a…”

“I’m tired of doing the right thing,”  I interrupted.

“We ALWAYS do the right thing,”  Jones declared.

“And where does it get us?”  I asked.  “Nowhere fast.  Me fistfight a highly evolved, all-powerful, omnipotent artificial intelligence who’s taken control of a killer death bot?  Puh-leaze!”

More silence.

“We’re going to save her, aren’t we?”  Jones asked.

“Yup,”  I said.

Jones punched a few buttons.  “Tracking Ninety-five’s electronic signature now.”

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Undesiredverse: Wanted – Chapter 7

Six against one.  The odds were against me.  I held my hands up.  The goon squad drew their hand cannons and approached.

“Screw it,”  I thought. “I’d rather be dead than surrender.”

Bounty hunting.  If you’re looking for work, I don’t recommend it.  God knows I wish I’d of gotten into a nice vocational training program but I’m stuck with my career choice now, and if I can’t talk you out of it, you’d better get your own arsenal.

Don’t just get one.  Carry it with you.  I did.  Unlucky for me, it was all neatly stored within my duster sitting on the couch on the opposite side of the room.

I was going to have to do this bare handed.

“OK boys,”  I said as I clasped my hands behind my neck.  “Let’s get this over with.”

They drew closer, their sights trained on me.  One of them put his hand on mine.  I twisted it, broke it at the wrist, then caught the blaster he dropped with his free hand.  I used it to gank two of those losers.  I made a backward dive across the floor, trading shots along the way.

There it was.  My precious duster.  I reached in the pocket and found a small rubber ball.

Three henchmen left.

“WAIT!!!”  I shouted.  I stood up with my hands up again.  “I give up!”

“What’s in your hand?”  on of the goons asked.

“Huh?”  I asked.

“YOUR HAND!  WHAT’S IN IT?!”

“Oh, this thing?” I said as I opened my hand up to reveal the ball.  “Here, catch.”

I threw it.  The goon caught it.  The three of them stood there staring at it like it was a beguiling mystery.

I clicked my Sen Pen twice.

“Detontate,”  I said.

Next thing I knew, it was raining shai parts.  Not a pretty sight. 

I put on my duster with a flourish.  It’s the only way to put on a duster.  You should try it sometime.  Not with mine though.  Get your own.

Behind me, a low growl turned into a ferocious roar.  I’d forgotten there was one more goon.  A furry one.

I kept perfectly still.  I could hear the banji beast charge.  I could sense it getting closer and closer.  I lulled it in, letting her think she’d bested me and then…BAM!  I turned around at the last minute and smashed the fuzzy bastard right in the face, knocking it the hell out.

You wish you were badass enough to say that you punched a banji beast in the face, don’t you?  It’s ok.  Don’t feel bad.  There can only be one Roman Voss.

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Movie Review – The Martian (2015) (And What It Does For Self-Publishing)

“You do the math. You solve one problem. And then you solve another. And then another. Solve enough and you stay alive.”

– Mark Watney, The Martian

An astronaut trapped on Mars.  A daring rescue mission.  Matt Damon.  Jeff Daniels.  Jessica Chastain.  Kate Mara.  Sean Bean.  Kristen Wiig.  The list of top actors on this movie is too long to keep rattling names off but the biggest star of all?

SCIENCE!

Yes, in an age where people want more explosions, sex, and what the hell, explosive sex, Alien director Ridley Scott made a movie that not only entertains but educates.

Put on your spacesuit, 3.5 readers, and let’s talk about what this movie does not only for science, but for the world of self-publishing.

The Martian – Twentieth Century Fox

OK, first of all, let’s address the proverbial elephant on the sofa, the gorilla in the barcalounger, if you will.

But BQB!  Aren’t you trapped in the middle of the East Randomtown Zombie Apocalypse?

I sure am, 3.5 readers.  Luckily, I’ve got Alien Jones’ plutonium powered space phone and the Esteemed Brainy One managed to stream it for my group of survivors last night.  It really lifted our spirits, because as you may have heard, we’re currently riding out the zompoc in Price Town, one of the last three stores still open at the nearly abandoned East Randomtown Mall.

HOW BIG WAS THIS MOVIE?

A “friend” of mine sent me an e-mail to let me know that this movie was so big that he’d never seen a line so long at the theater he usually goes to before.  The poor chump ended up stuck in that damn front row spot.  You know, the one where you have to keep your neck craned skywards for two hours and you have to look to the left when a character on the left is talking and a character on the right is talking.

What a jackass.  Guy probably should have taken into account how popular the movie would be and gotten there earlier.

Either that or he could have skipped the popcorn and soda.  God knows that fatty doesn’t need it.

Oh sorry, I shouldn’t speak ill of my friend on my blog.  Good thing only 3.5 people read this.

THE PLOT

A storm causes a team of astronauts to abandon their mission on Mars.  One of their teammates, Mark Watney, is impaled, presumed dead, and abandoned.

Whoops!  He’s still alive, but the the Red Planet is so far away that NASA won’t be able to get help to him any soon.

THE SCIENCE

One of the biggest challenges for a writer is to a) explain to the reader how a character is going to extricate himself from a sticky situation with enough detail so as to not leave the reader feeling cheated and yet b) not go overboard to the point where the reader feels like dozing off.

Enter Andy Weir.  The Martian is based off of Weir’s novel of the same name.

A computer programmer, Weir made all sorts of calculations, estimates, and scientific conclusions on how, in theory, an astronaut trapped on Mars could live long enough to find a way back home.

“I’m going to have to science the shit out of this,”  Damon, as Watney, says.

And science the shit out of it, he does.  Literally.  He uses his own shit as fertilizer for potato plants.  Potatoes then become Mark’s only form of sustenance and I’m willing to bet he reached a point where he never wanted to see another french fry ever again.

Aside from the potato plants, I don’t want to go into too much detail on the science angle.  A)  To do so would be to provide you with too many SPOILERS and b) some of it my brain was too feeble to understand and other parts I did understand but am not sure I could explain it correctly.

Suffice to say, there’s a lot of brainy people involved.  NASA scientists on the ground work on a rescue plan while Watney on Mars works on his own survival.

For any kid out there interested in science, this film provides role models to look up to, not just in the form of the astronauts, but the people – technicians, engineers, specialists, scientists, etc. working to bring their colleague home.

Science, kids.  It’s the way of the future.

WHAT DOES THIS MOVIE MEAN FOR SELF-PUBLISHING?

The Martian started out as a free serial on Andy’s blog.  He as just a guy who really loved math, science, and space.  So he took his passions and funneled them into a project to entertain his blog readers.  (I bet he had more than 3.5 of them.)

As he explained in an interview with Johnny, Sean and Dave of the Self-Publishing Podcast, he put the novel on Amazon at the request of some of his readers who preferred an e-reader format over reading it on a blog.  Not out to make any money and not thinking it would go anywhere, Weir put his novel on Amazon, priced it at 99-cents, and let his blog readers know it was available.

The novel took off and the rest was history.

By the way, I recommend listening to Andy’s SPP interview as it is an inspiration to anyone interested in self-publishing.  Success doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly didn’t for Andy.  He started blogging way back in 1999.  A sixteen year journey to the big screen!

Keep plugging away, 3.5 readers/writers.  Success might seem so far away as to be pointless, but then again, you’re already ahead of those who gave up.

I’ve sought out opinions as to what this movie means for self-publishers.  Andy’s novel was originally self-published before he was approached by a literary agent and sold it to a big publisher.

Does this mean the general public will look at self-publishers in a whole new light?  That if one man was able to take a project on his blog and turn it into a blockbuster film starring Matt Damon and other stars, might that not cause people to pay more attention to self-published works?

One person I spoke with answered no.  His reasoning was the majority of the movie going public doesn’t really care who wrote a book or how the book was made.  They just want to be entertained and thus this won’t do a lot to bring attention to self-publishing.

Technically, I think he’s right, but therein lies the rub.

As self-publishers, our WHOLE GOAL is to provide a piece of entertainment crafted so well that no one notices it wasn’t made by a team of big shots.

Because at the end of the day, when you turn on the TV, do you pay that much attention if a show is on NBC, CBS, or Showtime or do you just pick and watch shows because they grab your attention?

Have you ever said, “Well, I’ll never watch THAT film because it was made by Fox and Goddamn it, this is a Sony household!”

Have you ever walked into a bookstore, strolled over to the clerk, and said, “Excuse me, will you point me to the Random House books because I’m ONLY a Random House reader and I’ll never allow a Penguin book to sully my eyes!”

No.  No one cares who was behind a piece of entertainment so long as it is entertaining.

And that, my 3.5 readers, is what I believe this movie does for self-publishers.

It gives their collective souls a boost.  Andy Weir becomes another Hugh Howey to look up to.  “If that guy did it, then I can do it too!”

After all, when Andy got his start, his readers weren’t saying, “Ugh!  This book was not put out by a traditional publishing house?  No thank you!”

They were saying, “An astronaut who gets trapped on Mars and has to figure out how to survive?!  That sounds so cool!  Sign me up!”

When you’re in the clothing store, do you check the label on that shirt that caught your eye?  Nope.  You’ll just buy it because you like it.

Write cool stories, 3.5 readers and if they’re entertaining enough, people won’t bother to check the label.

Thanks 3.5.  I have to go fight the zombie apocalypse now.

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The Mighty Potentate Responds to the Discovery of Kepler-452b

By:  The Mighty Potentate, Alien Jones’ Boss and Supreme Overlord of a Planet the Name of Which is None of Your Damn Business

Alien Jones' Boss, the Mighty Potentate.

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY POTENTATE!

Greetings, Pitiful Humans!

Alien Jones’ boss, the Mighty Potentate, here to respond to rumors vis a vis this fiasco:

Yes, your Earth scientists, who think they are all big and brainy but in actuality are about as witty as a Banji Beast’s Butt Burst compared to the legion of geniuses under my command, claim to have discovered an Earth-like planet, one potentially capable of sustaining life.

Let us address the question that has no doubt entered your minds:

Is this Alien Jones’ home world, the one I, the Mighty Potentate, rule over with an iron fist?

THE ANSWER:  NO!

Muah ha ha!  Foolish hairless apes.  You really thought it would be that easy to locate a planet under the control of a being with a brain as copious and learned as mind?

Hilarious!  The notion brings nothing but laughter to me.  Ha.  Ha, I say!  Ha.

No, this is not my secret planet and therefore, your degenerate Hollywood executives should, UNDER NO MEANS:

1)  Use this telescope contraption to beam your insipid reality television programs to my, er, this planet’s media viewing devices.

2)  Build spacecraft capable of long range flight to deliver reality television stars to this world.  I mean, it’s not mine, but seriously, no planet deserves an influx of reality TV.  Keep it to yourself.

3)  Develop more obnoxious reality TV programs in the hopes of selling them to the residents of this planet.

4)  Don’t just start calling it a random name like Kepler-425b.  Perhaps this planet has a much cooler name.  I don’t know what it’s name is.  Why are you asking me?  I wouldn’t tell you if I knew it’s name anyway.  It’s none of your business, losers.  Seriously, just showing up to a place already inhabited, acting like you own it and can just move in, ignoring the beings that already live there.  You humans have a bad habit of doing that, you know.

Whoever the inhabitants of this mysterious planet may be, rest assured had they wanted you poking your big noses around, they’d of invited you to do so long ago, pathetic humans.

Whoever the inhabitants of this planet are, maybe all they ever wanted was to kidnap and probe a few of you to find out what makes you tick (specimens were surely given right back) and make crop circles as practical jokes.  No doubt a wise ruler put an end to those practices long ago, though some of his dumber subjects probably don’t listen.

What?  I’m talking about some other planet.  Stop asking questions.

In closing, REMOVE THE OFFENDING TELESCOPE CONTRAPTION FROM MY ORBIT IMMEDIATELY OR PREPARE FOR INTERGALACTIC CONQUEST!

Er, I mean, or don’t.  I don’t care.  Because that’s totally not my planet.

CEASE PUBLIC TRANSMISSION.

PRIVATE TRANSMISSION.

Not to be shared publicly with the worthless humans.

ALIEN JONES!  You were ordered to keep the humans away!  First, it’s this damnable satellite!  Next, my TV will have nothing but “Bowling Alley Disco Makeover” and “Who Wants to Be a Barracuda Farmer?”

Double your efforts towards launching BQB’s writing career, Alien Jones!  He and the self-published authors promoted in your Ask the Alien column are our only hope!

Fix this immediately, or it’s Welcome to Vaporization City: Population You!

End of Private Transmission.

Alien Jones is the Intergalactic Correspondent for the Bookshelf Battle. Do you have a question for the Esteemed Brainy One? Submit it to Bookshelf Q. Battler via a tweet to @bookshelfbattle, leave it in the comment section on this site, or drop it off on the Bookshelf Battle Google + page. If AJ likes your question, he might promote your book, blog, or other project while providing his answer.

ALIEN JONES’ GUARANTEE:  If you don’t like AJ’s response, just let him know and he’ll file it into the recycling bin of his monolithic super computer. No muss, no fuss, no problem.

Alien image courtesy of openclipart.org

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