Star Trek gets spoofed in John Scalzi's Redshirts

07-Jul-12 6:03 PM by
Filed under Humor, Star Trek; Comments Off on Star Trek gets spoofed in John Scalzi's Redshirts

RedshirtsGalaxyQuest was a funny movie for a general audience and hilarious for lovers of Star Trek. Conversely, I can't imagine anyone but Trekkies who will appreciate John Scalzi's latest book, Redshirts — but boy, will they love it!

Set on a fictional starship, the book parrots almost every element of the Star Trek universe — or, more precisely, the television show. When lowly ensigns start to realize that they're always the ones to die on away missions, and "main characters" never do, they start to look into exactly why. What they discover is as surprising as it is riveting.

I've read a few of Scalzi's other books (Old Man's War, Fuzzy Nation) and knew him to have a sense of humor, but it's never been as obvious as it is here. When an opening chapter can have the following happen to our then-protagonist: "But then he tripped and fell and a worm ate his face and he died anyway" — you know you're in for a good time. (You can read the first five chapters online.)

Yet after the story is done, three codas told from three different perspectives, making for a total of 70+ pages of "bonus" material, do more than pad out an otherwise relatively short tale. These chapters adopt a completely different tone, hitting a variety of emotional cues and balancing the story out.

Redshirts is a quick and fun read that you'll be sorry to see end — heck, it's even good enough to have its own theme song by Jonathan Coulton. I highly recommend it to all geeks.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my book reviews on Goodreads

Who's a Geek?

01-Jul-09 1:30 PM by
Filed under Celebrities; Comments Off on Who's a Geek?

Earlier this week, John Hodgman, perhaps best known as the PC from Apple's "Get a Mac" ads, spoke at the annual Radio & TV Correspondents' Dinner, with President Obama in attendance:

Though the USA's current presidential administration does seem to be more science-oriented than its predecessor, the correlation between that and the President's own geeky nature and background is oft overlooked.

Barack the BarbarianObama's familiarity with Superman's legacy is evident not only in the picture Hodgman presented, but also when Obama roasted McCain some months ago. The President has since appeared in several comics of his own, including not only Spider-Man, but also an original title that segues perfectly with Hodgman's slideshow.

However, as proud as I am to have a geek president, I think we need to consider the image that Hodgman reinforced. It was just a decade or two ago that geeks were shoved into lockers, had sand kicked in their face, and never, ever got the girl. To hear Hodgman speak, those days are still with us, and the lines are still sharply delineated as the jocks-and-geeks war rages on.

In reality, as society becomes more technologically dependent, the geeks are inheriting the earth. Those who know how to use Twitter aren't just sharing lolcats; they're helping the Iranian revolution. Playing video games does not make us geeks; that activity has gone mainstream. Some of us would just as soon go for a 150-mile bike ride as we would watch Star Trek.

So if not the classic stereotypes of yesterday, and not the extremes that Hodgman parodied, then what defines the modern geek?

For that, I'll let geeks speak for themselves:

RiffTrax on TRON: It's Hard to Overstate My Satisfaction

22-May-09 1:03 PM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

I love TRON. I love RiffTrax. Combine the two, and I'm in heaven.

I was witness to this union five years ago at a now-defunct local arthouse cinema, when comedian Chris Hanel and his troupe arrived for a live riffing of the film, MST3K-style. Just a few years later, RiffTrax was born, and then iRiffs, allowing independent parties to publish their riffs. So Hanel & Co. dusted off their script, brought it up to date, and published the first TRON iRiff:

If there's one thing I love as much as movies, it's video games. well before I actually played the Xbox 360 game Portal, I was enamoured with its end credits song, masterfully written by Jonathan Coulton. It's an admiration I share with Bill Corbett, who actually performed on stage with Jonathan, Paul, and Storm one lucky night last year.

That talent was recently reunited when Bill invited the musicians to the RiffTrax studios:

The end product of this grueling training: yet another riff on TRON!

I'm such a fan of Jonathan Coulton and his many varied works that I was a bit surprised to not find his RiffTrax sample as amusing as Hanel's iRiff — but it's hard to judge a 90-minute project on just a two-minute cut. One can never have too much TRON paraphernalia, so both groups will be getting my financial endorsement, regardless. Look for the final release of the Coulton riff on May 26.

(Hat tip to Satellite News)