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Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

I ran through a number of possibilities for today’s installment of #ThingsILike. Allow me to take you on a tour:
(tl;dr? Limitless is awesome:)

Option #1: Delightfully Precocious Investigative Journalist Hilde Kate Lysiak (Age 9)
Consider, if you will, the nine-year old reporter from Pennsylvania doing her best (and it’s good) to report serious news in her hometown. Hilde Kate Lysiak publishes the Orange Street News from Selinsgrove, PA, and she’s not writing puff pieces about puppies or flowers. Her story went viral when she reported on a murder that took place early April just a few blocks from her house. I can’t wait to see what she can do by the time she gets her driver’s license.

Option #2: Call A Random Swede
I also discovered that Sweden (yes, the country) has its own phone number. Dial the number (it is international, so watch those fees!) and you will be connected to a random Swede.

That’s right, thousands of people have signed up to participate in this program, and incoming calls are randomly shunted to one of them when a call comes through. Call one minute and you might find yourself speaking with a professor in Uppsala, call the next minute and you could be put in touch with a (let’s say) restauranteur from Stockholm or Volvo employee in Arvika.

No guarantees that caller and callee will speak a common language, but that’s part of the fun. There’s just no telling! Suggested topics of conversation include meatballs (yum), darkness (it’s like fine wine in France, they have a lot of the stuff but not everywhere), and feminism (yeah, my family’s ancestral homeland is awesome). All in the name of tourism, of course, but what a great way to humanize another culture.

What’s the number, you ask? Why, it’s + 46 771 793 336 🙂

Option #3: Limitless
Both of the above topics are fun, but in the end I decided to go with something a bit closer to my writerly wheelhouse: Limitless.

The show is based on the movie of the same name. (Time to fess up: I watched the beginning of the movie but somehow never quite made it to the end. It may have had something to do with the initial portrayal of the writer as unmotivated loser. Maybe;)

Here’s a short description from CBS: Limitless is “is a fast-paced drama about Brian Finch, who discovers the brain-boosting power of the mysterious drug NZT and is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to solve complex cases for them…”

Sounds like a fine (if potentially generic) crime/investigative show. Except that it is nothing like your average CSI.

When I heard the initial chatter about the series my dominant reaction was “meh.” What could they bring to the table as a series? A lot, it turns out. If you’re a fan of deep, serious drama look elsewhere (admittedly, I’m often not), but what the show does, it does very well.

I like speculative fiction and I like humor, and like peanut butter and chocolate, the two are often better together. Limitless is one such case. The writers (and everyone else involved) are blending both humor and serious stakes together into one great whole. Breaking the fourth wall doesn’t begin to capture it. We are always happy to see an episode on the PVR, but we make sure to watch it after dinner. That way we won’t be distracted by an errant tomato and miss a quip, creative visual set piece, or hilarious aside.

Sure, it’s a (mostly) lighthearted TV show, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do fun and interesting things with characters, plot, and presentation. Creative, innovative and downright fun, I’m enjoying the heck out of this show. And as I mentioned, it’s not a show I initially expected to like.

The cast features established faces (including Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ron Rifkin) and (for me at least) newer ones, including the charismatic and entertaining Jake McDorman. While Bradley Cooper serves as executive producer and sometime guest star, the dynamics between McDorman and Jennifer Carpenter are what anchor the show. I recommend you start at the beginning of Season 1 rather than try to pop in mid-way for best effect.

Why bring this up today? Because I realized that there are only two episodes left in the season and CBS has yet to renew. Prospects look good but after all the television-related heartbreak (of course I’m looking at you Firefly, but there are many more), I wanted to speak up.

If you’re in the market for good, geeky fun dished out with sides of humor and crime-fighting, Limitless is for you.

/recommended

This has been today’s edition of #ThingsILike, sent from my writerly Headquarters (with an exclamation point!).

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For today’s sampling of free fiction we have a novelette by the great Connie Willis.

Fire Watch” is anchored in a future where time travel is a research tool, and features the same group of historians as in Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. (This novelette is #0.5 in the Oxford Time Travel series.)

Welcome to a world where your academic practicum might include saving a beloved church during the London Blitz. Heck, I wish my History degree had come with a side of time travel:)

Enjoy!

 

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Ever feel like things just aren’t going your way? My free fiction selection for the day is “Non-Zero Probabilities” by N. K. Jemisin (Clarkesworld, September 2009) ~3400 words.

This 2009 Nebula Award Nominee and 2010 Hugo Award Nominee introduces us to a new New York City, one in which the rules of probability have dramatically changed, and only sometimes for the better:

In the mornings, Adele girds herself for the trip to work as a warrior for battle. First she prays, both to the Christian god of her Irish ancestors and to the orishas of her African ancestors — the latter she is less familiar with, but getting to know. Then she takes a bath with herbs, including dried chickory and allspice, from a mixture given to her by the woman at the local botanica. (She doesn’t know Spanish well, but she’s getting to know that too. Today’s word is suerte.)

Enjoy!

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The goal of the Tomorrow Project is to use science fiction to “spark conversations about the future.” This international project taps ideas from today’s emerging technologies, including synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and 3D printing, and spins out possible impacts on future society.

The good news is that it’s not all killer AIs and artificial plagues:) As they so succinctly put it,

Science fiction is a way to think about how we want the future to be.

Anthology Titles:

Enjoy, fellow futurists!

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Today we have a double dose of free fiction! The first comes from David D. Levine at Tor.com:

Damage” is a tale of desperate times, desperate measures, and the inner life of a fighter spacecraft.

This thoughtful short story of a ship and its master has been nominated for the 2015 Nebula Awards. (If you liked Ann Leckie’s Ancillary trilogy I imagine this could appeal to you as well.) For more on the stories selected for this year’s Nebulas, including select links to full-text versions, check out the complete list of nominees.

The second dose is more like a raging river. Up and Coming is a collection of works by authors eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016, and is now available for free download. That’s over a million words of fiction!

The anthology is free free free but only until March 31. Get it while it’s available and enjoy:)

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26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss, by Kij Johnson (no relation:)

Winner of the 2009 World Fantasy Award.
Winner of the 2008 Asimov’s magazine Readers Award for best short story.
Final ballot, 2008 Hugo Award.
Final ballot, 2008 Nebula Award.
Mentioned on Locus Magazine’s 2008 Recommended Reading list.
Read by Diane Severson as a charming audio reading at StarShipSofa.com.

This lovely story is subtle but with great atmosphere, and the ending packs a punch. Find more of Kij’s fiction and poetry on her website.

Happy Leap Day, and enjoy!

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One of the best ways to understand writing and how to connect with an audience, I find, is to read. A lot. As I read, I ask myself which stories stick with me and why, which annoy me and why, which suck me in so completely that I forget to think about the how and focus only on the what.

For today’s free fiction we have the winner of the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Short Story, “Bridesicle”* [audio available from Escape Pod], by Will McIntosh. It’s a lovely twist on the classic science fiction theme of cryogenics, and it’s exactly the sort of story that sticks with me.

Originally published in Asimov’s, this touching tale also won the 2010 Asimov’s Reader Poll and was a finalist for the 2010 Nebula Award. If you like the story and want to explore the world further, the author also expanded the story into a full-length novel titled Love Minus Eighty.

Enjoy!

 

* Update: I originally posted a link to what I thought was a freely available version of the story text but! as it’s copyrighted material the link has been removed. It’s still a great story and it’s still available through Escape Pod, narrated by Amy Sturgis, or check out Love Minus Eighty.

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Today’s free fiction comes from Ann Leckie of Ancillary fame and more. “Hesperia and Glory” was her first SF&F sale, and she blogs about the story and her experience writing it as part of the Clarion West writers workshop:

…all the best advice in the world (and trust me, it was fabulous advice for the story I appeared to have written) isn’t useful if it’s not for your story.

“Hesperia and Glory” is available free as part of a special issue of Subterranean Magazine guest-edited by John Scalzi. Also in this issue, stories by Rachel Swirsky, Jo Walton, Elizabeth Bear and more.

Heck, since I’m at it, let me link two other Leckie stories I read in the past few weeks, both in the Imperial Radch universe:

Night’s Slow Poison from Tor.com
She Commands Me and I Obey from Strange Horizons

Enjoy!

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What’s this, what’s this? Libraries that will let you check out musical instruments plus have a librarian trained to help patrons with the tricky bits? That’s something I like.

Pennsylvania Libraries Will Let You Check Out a Ukulele
There’s a strange sound emerging from some Pennsylvania libraries. It’s not the sound of pages turning or scanners scanning—it’s the distinctive dainty, nimble strum that comes from a ukulele.

Even in the age of the internet libraries are incredible resources, and this just adds to the awesome. Not that I play ukelele, but that’s kind of the point. Libraries let you sample a wide variety of knowledge, experience, and perspectives. Yesterday a Moroccan cookbook, today space opera, tomorrow ukelele:)

How great is that?

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Today’s free fiction is a Best of 2015 collection from Tor.com. Available in PDF, EPUB & MOBI formats, the book download requires free login. Note that these and all other Tor.com stories are available free online but it’s great to get a prepackaged anthology as a jumping off point.

Some of the Best from Tor.com 2015

The stories were acquired by editors Ellen Datlow, Claire Eddy, Carl Engle-Laird, Liz Gorinsky, David G. Hartwell, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Beth Meacham, Marco Palmieri, and Ann VanderMeer.

Enjoy!

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