A ton of Rudy Rucker stories, free and legal

Rudy Rucker has posted his Complete Stories online. He calls it a free sample and you can buy the book if you’re so inclined. It’s been a while since I’ve done Free Story Friday here at Goug’ Blog, so hopefully these will help make up for that misstep.

When I read Colliding Branes (co-written with Bruce Sterling), I knew I wouldn’t read a better SF story for a very, very long time.

New Metal Gear Solid game (Ground Zeroes) is open world, set for current-gen specs

Kotaku has the full story.

The thing is, this is not just a tech demo. This is an upcoming, new, open-world Metal Gear Solid game. 

“This announcement is a challenge from Kojima Productions to the world,” said Hideo Kojima.

Hideo Kojima is a writer first and a game developer second. In the early days of his career, many programmers resented his presence on the payroll because video games back then didn’t even have stories. Thankfully, Kojima’s one of the guys who changed that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Metal Gear Solid 4 is one of my favorite experiences of all time. I’ve rarely seen a more satisfying ending in my life, not just in games, but even considering movies, books, and TV.

What do you think about the new MGS? Leave a comment below. Act now and we’ll double the offer!

Grand Theft Auto IV: Hill Valley – [Back to the Future Mod Showcase]

Engaging travel mode just milliseconds before crashing into the police barricade is just about the coolest thing I’ve seen in a mod ever.

Says the uploader:

DISCLAIMER: There is no single “Download Link” for this mod. It’s a HEAVILY CUSTOMIZED PC project from a die-hard BTTF and GTA fan. It took me months to tweak everything and finally get it working right but I couldn’t have done it without the help of some truly great mod makers (credits/links below). Please don’t just start modifying your game without researching and backing things up first. You WILL break it.

Dyson sphere search program: the official website (and Alcubierre drives)

File:Dyson Sphere Diagram-en.svg

An advanced intelligence wouldn’t even dream of building Alcubierre drives and wormhole generators until they had mastered Dyson spheres. Short of intercepting designed radio signals, detecting this type of civilization is among the best bets we’ve got for discovering E.T. Click here for the official site for the search of Dyson spheres.

Discovery has a summary in plainer English.

Speaking of Alcubierre drives, io9 has a good article for why they just won’t work, but could theoretically make a hell of a weapon.

Do you think an Alcubierre drive would work? Let’s hear what you have to say in the comments below.

Albert Brooks plays a science fiction writer who moves in with his mother

I always liked this movie. One of my favorite parts is when Brooks says something along the lines of, “What, you didn’t like the character with the big hand?” when he faces honest criticism about one of his books. That one hits close to home, I’m afraid to say.

Mother by Albert Brooks

It should be noted that Albert Brooks really has written a science fiction novel (or sorts) called 2030: The Real Story Of What Happens To America. From the official site:

Is this what’s in store? 

June 12, 2030 started out like any other day in memory—and by then, memories were long. Since cancer had been cured fifteen years before, America’s population was aging rapidly. That sounds like good news, but consider this: millions of baby boomers, with a big natural predator picked off, were sucking dry benefits and resources that were never meant to hold them into their eighties and beyond. Young people around the country simmered with resentment toward “the olds” and anger at the treadmill they could never get off of just to maintain their parents’ entitlement programs.

I haven’t read it yet.

Anyway, what did you think about Mother? Leave a comment below, if you want. Don’t cost nothin’.

The Hammer Of God will bore you to death before it knocks your socks off

If you know me at all, you know I love the works of Arthur C. Clarke. As Woody Allen told Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, love isn’t even a strong enough word. I need an entirely new word for how much I love ACC. Yet, I don’t absolutely love everything he’s written. I’m not so blinded by my fandom that I can’t see the flaws in his method. It sometimes seems there are two ACCs, one who writes what we want and, well, one who almost seems like an impostor. Almost.

The Hammer Of God is a balanced mixture of these two ACCs. For the first half of the book, one catches glimpses of the world-building that made Rendezvous with Rama such a compelling read, but for the most part it’s a dud. The first half is mostly filler. He probably could have cut 60% of it, but even with the first half intact, this is a very short novel. It’s a one-day read, maybe two.
On the other hand, the second half of the book is more than worthwhile. I’m sure that’s the half which interested Spielberg when he optioned the book into a movie. Why his production company made Deep Impact instead, I’ll never know.
“I have great faith in optimism as a guiding principle.”
A little background: humans are living not just on Earth, but on the moon and Mars. One of the world’s fastest growing religions has been started by a woman who, inspired by a tour of duty in Desert Storm, decided to combine Christianity and Islam into something new. Partly because Chrislam isn’t as prude as most religions when it comes to sex and other modern desires, it becomes popular pretty quickly. When Earth receives what appears to be a deliberate radio signal from another star system, Chrislamists preach it’s a message from God. In the same way paranormal investigators unwittingly construct tools to give them the false positives they’re looking for, Chrislamists use special methods to insure they get exactly the message they want to extract from the signal. More on these bozos later.
ACC recycles ideas. Since this is the guy who first wrote about the geostationary satellites we rely on today for communications, can you blame him? In Hammer of God more than 90% of all asteroids and comets in the solar system have been cataloged by SPACEGUARD. Does that program sound familiar? It’s because he made it up in Rendezvous with Rama, but in the years between that novel and Hammer, it became a reality. In Hammer, he writes about the real SPACEGUARD, interestingly enough, rather than the one he imagined. Nevertheless, it’s an amateur astronomer living on Mars who originally detects a doomsday asteroid on a collision course with Earth. 
(The real world implications are frightening. Consider: in the next thousand years, a catastrophic collision is expected to occur on Earth, the moon, or Mars. If you plan on staying on Earth for the rest of your life, as most of us will no doubt have to do, this is more or less like being forced to play spin the bottle with a loaded gun and only three players.)
Thankfully, there’s a spacecraft within rendezvous distance of the doomsday asteroid (the same thing happened in Rendezvous with Rama), which scientists dub Kali, after the goddess of destruction. Astronauts plan to touchdown on the asteroid and attach a thruster system known as ATLAS, which will nudge Kali out of its current trajectory. ATLAS, however, requires a mindbogglingly large amount of fuel, which takes a month to acquire. By the time they get it, Kali is within the orbit of Mars—frighteningly close to the homeworld. No worries, though, because things seem to be smooth sailing once they get their fuel. The astronauts land on Kali, attach ATLAS, turn the system on and, surprise-surprise: it’s been sabotaged by Chrislamists. It turns out they believe only God should decide whether or not the asteroid collides with Earth.

This is when the book gets good. And I mean really good. The astronauts devise one plan after another, only to encounter problems left and right. The scientists and politicians back on Earth decide to take out an insurance policy: a hastily constructed nuke which they plan to fire at the asteroid when all is lost. If the astronauts succeed, the scientists will simply send a deactivation signal. If the astronauts fail, they’ll allow the nuke to continue as planned. As you can imagine, things don’t work out as simply as that.
I’m tempted to tell readers of The Hammer of God to start at its halfway point. They shouldn’t. The second half really is worth the first half. 

The Cabin In The Woods is the best horror film in ages

I remember when Scream came out, everyone was applauding it for turning horror cliches upside down. It was an okay movie. Personally I felt it was too self-congratulatory when it successfully flipped said cliches. I don’t know. I guess it was kind of like the Spaceballs of horror films in the fact it was too silly to be taken seriously. Then again, it was too normal and embarrassingly mainstream to fully embrace its silliness. Hard to explain, really….

Ah, here’s the word I’m looking for: mediocre. That describes the entire series, really. Horror movies aren’t supposed to have a robust cast of returning characters. They’re not supposed to be a fucking soap opera. Wes Craven’s failure to kill Sidney by part four was a major misstep.

Evil Dead. Now there’s a good horror series. Those movies were made for horror fans who were growing tired of the usual tropes. Scream, on the other hand, was seemingly made for non-horror fans who only thought horror fans were too stupid to get the jokes.

I’ll swallow your soul!

Imagine my surprise when I saw Cabin In The Woods expecting your usual Hollywood horror movie “with a twist.” It’s about your typical teens in, uh, a cabin in the woods. Only it isn’t. The poster gives away the fact there’s more going on. So does the trailer. Those who managed to miss those hints would be pretty surprised by the opening seconds of the film. Who the hell are those guys? What is that place? Did I walk into the wrong movie?

And what the hell… freakin’ mermen?

I can’t tell you anything else about the plot because knowing anything about this movie defeats the purpose of watching it in the first place. I will say I love the ending because I love crazy stuff. I was energized by the creativity and lack of restraint. I laughed, I cringed, and then I laughed some more. That’s all they wanted to do: to entertain us while wearing their horror inspirations on their sleeve.

It’s sad, really. We won’t see another American horror movie as original as this one for a very long time. Bring on Paranormal Activity part… what is it now? 4? Jesus Christ.