Weight and Stuff Report – 12 February 2017

Weight: 240.5 pounds (17 stone 2.5 pounds, 109.1 kg)
Steps taken: 4,018

What’s that? Substantially down today? Is this a temporary anomaly[1]? Or a random thingy? Time will tell, or something.

Talking of time, he said, in a not even slightly contrived manner:

Transport

Transport

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/2.8
Shutter speed 1/60s
Focal length 38.8mm
ISO 250
Taken 21:42, 10 February, 2017

[1] No, not temporal anomaly, this isn’t Primeval…

Charles Stross – Empire Games

Woo hoo! Here we are with the first in a new Trilogy from Charlie Stross, which follows on from the Merchant Princes series.

To fill in a bit of background: there are numerous parallel worlds, between which people with certain genetic traits (world walkers)can move. In a world similar, but not identical to our own (Timeline 2), this is discovered when dodgy characters from a less technologically advanced society (Timeline 1) are found to have been using Timeline 2 as a wealth-creating opportunity (a bit of drug dealing, ultra-fast courier services). This leads to Bad Things when extreme elements from Timeline 1 use a stolen portable nuclear device to assassinate the Timeline 2 US President, which leads to the annihilation of their small nation. A small number of world walker refugees, led by Miriam Beckstein (whose history is a bit complicated) escape to Timeline 3, which has a technological level somewhat behind Timeline 2 (steam trains, biplanes…). They’re just in time to assist with a revolution, in which the king of what used to be the British Empire before the French conquered Britain is deposed in favour of a not quite democratic but might get there in the end regime.

The new trilogy picks up the story 17 years later. It’s 2020 and Timeline 2 America is a security state run in terror of further attacks by world walkers. Other worlds have been examined, but no other developed ones. But some rather old ruins have been found, with indications of a “forerunner” civilisation that seems to have been wiped out a couple of thousand years ago.

The protagonist is Rita Douglas, who knew she was adopted at birth, but doesn’t know that her birth mother was Miriam Beckstein, much less that she carries the inactive world walking genes.

So, she’s a little surprised when she’s recruited by the US Government, given treatments that activate the world walking ability and trained for covert operations in another timeline.

This all happens a bit quickly because the Timeline 2 US has found Timeline 3, and they’re a bit miffed because somebody there nuked a couple of their spy drones.

Meanwhile, Timeline 3 is approaching a political crisis, and it’s all got the potential for the crazier elements to start another cross-time war.

And it’s all done with Charlie’s usual style – lots of fun, cultural references raging from Blade Runner

Ever wondered if a new life awaits you in the off-world colonies? Because now’s your chance for a preview.

to House of Cards (and I’m sure Charlie’s thinking of the original)

You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.

Not to mention reference to an obscure sf novel called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy

Recommended. Will keep you reading and leave you wanting the next volume, due early next year.

Weight and Stuff Report – 10 February 2017

Weight: 242.2 pounds (17 stone 4.2 pounds, 109.9 kg)
Steps taken: 2,505

Shock, horror, sensation, down a bit today. Whatever next?

Here’s a little friend who followed me here from Cardiff a while ago

Y ddraig goch

Y ddraig goch

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/2.8
Shutter speed 1/60s
Focal length 41.4mm
ISO 320
Taken 21:41, 10 February, 2017

Star Trek: Enterprise: The Full Journey Blu-ray

Readers with particularly good memories might recall me being a little harsh about Star Trek: Enterprise as it creaked to a conclusion in 2005. Some time ago, I gave it another go, and watched some of it on rented DVDs, but as I recall, I didn’t get through the whole run. And not so long ago[1], I noticed that the complete series on Blu-ray had come down to the sort of price that made me think that maybe I really should give it another chance. And over the last however many weeks it took[2], I’ve now watched all four seasons and a load of extras. So, what does the older[3] Les think now?

OK, let’s get the first thing out of the way: that bloody awful song. Now I understand that the creators were trying to go for something a bit different, something to appeal to a wider audience, but if they had to have a song, surely they could have picked something better?  The lack of “Star Trek” in the title was the idea of the creators rather than the studio, it seems.

It started out reasonably well, with a fair mix of good and not-so-good episodes, and sort of trundled along for a couple of years. There was some mysterious background with time-travelling twits from the future engaging in a temporal cold war, which had a lot of potential to be interesting, and could have gone further…

But in its third year, it got a whole lot better: the season had an overall story, which actually worked. There was a Deadly Threat to Humanity, alliances, betrayals, some rather interesting aliens and lots of Good Stuff.

But it all went a bit downhill with the fourth and final season. Stories dragged out over three episodes (a cost saving measure), and in stark contrast to the previous years, lots of continuity nods – how the Klingons lost their bumps[4], a young T’Pau and a bizarre final episode which had the Enterprise reproduced on the holodeck of the Enterprise-D apparently in the middle of a TNG episode, featuring Riker and Troi, who due to a transporter malfunction looked significantly older than they had in the rest of the episode they’re allegedly in. Not only sidelining the regular cast and not giving them a proper send-off, they even killed off one of them, in a pretty pointless manner.

So, yeah. Sort of good in parts, it was interesting to see it again, but I probably won’t return to it any time soon.

Extras in this set include lots of new and old bits, lots of talk from cast and creators, behind the scenes stuff, and an excruciatingly over-long chat between a bunch of the writers. Some of those chat things work really well, but this felt like eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation and not in a bad way. I lost interest long before its 90 minutes were up.

So, err, if you want to watch Enterprise, I’d suggest maybe looking for it on your choice of streaming service, and not worrying about missing the extras…

Ummm, this has been a bit long for a largely negative review. Sorry about that. But there will be a much more positive book review coming soon…

[1] Ah. Really? Apparently it was September last year
[2] I might have started before Christmas, I really can’t remember
[3] Though probably not wiser
[4] I preferred Worf’s “we do not talk about it to outsiders” line in the DS9 Tribbles episode[5]
[5] And I have a vague recollection of a Star Trek novel which suggested that in Kirk’s era, the Klingons we encountered were members of another species that was subject to the bumpy Klingons back home. Though that was blown when Klingons who’d been in the original series (without bumps) turned up in DS9 with bumps (maybe they grew them back when they got old).

 

Weight and Stuff Report – 9 February 2017

Weight: 242.9 pounds (17 stone 4.9 pounds, 110.2 kg)
Steps taken: 1,881

No change today, which just for a change I won’t say makes a change.

Back to the archives for this view of one of my favourite buildings in Cardiff, or indeed anywhere else:

Pier Head Building

Pier Head Building

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/4
Shutter speed 1/2500s
Focal length 10.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:50, 24 June, 2014
Location 51° 27.7908′ 0″ N 3° 9.8001′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 8 February 2017

Weight: 242.9 pounds (17 stone 4.9 pounds, 110.2 kg)
Steps taken: 3,061

Up another wee bit today, mutter.

I did have a little walk at lunchtime, in search of essential supplies:

Mmmmmm, coffeeeeeee.....

Mmmmmm, coffeeeeeee…..

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/50s
Focal length 55mm
ISO 800
Taken 19:05, 8 February, 2017

Weight and Stuff Report – 7 February 2017

Weight: 242.7 pounds (17 stone 4.7 pounds, 110.1 kg)
Steps taken: 2,142

Up a wee bit today, hey, ho, ho hum, and other things beginning with “H” that I can’t think of right now.

But never mind that, here’s Tigger

Tigger

Tigger

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/90s
Focal length 60mm
ISO 3200
Taken 11:36, 5 February, 2017

Weight and Stuff Report – 6 February 2017

Weight: 242.5 pounds (17 stone 4.5 pounds, 110 kg)
Steps taken: 2,016

No change today, which I’m sure you’ll be expecting me to say makes a change, so I won’t say that.

This chap got in the way when I was trying to photograph Tigger at the weekend

Rex

Rex

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/60s
Focal length 60mm
ISO 3200
Taken 11:36, 5 February, 2017

Weight and Stuff Report – 5 February 2017

Weight: 242.5 pounds (17 stone 4.5 pounds, 110 kg)
Steps taken: Not many, really

Hmmm, down again today, which is another one of those not doing much days. Not even any exciting database breaking editing like last week.

Tigger wanted to pose for me today:

Raiders of the Lost Bounce

Raiders of the Lost Bounce

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/2.4
Shutter speed 1/50s
Focal length 60mm
ISO 800
Taken 14:49, 5 February, 2017