Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Some thoughts on Good Omens


Good Omens – the book – is fantastic.  There are a ton of little jokes and references that you can’t always remember, so every time you reread it, you rediscover these gems.  Good Omens – the series – I found … a little meh.

Now I know that books and TV series are different media: what can be easily done in one can’t always be done in the other.  And adapting a book allows the screenwriter to show a different angle of the story, as well as maybe fixing a few inconsistencies, or things that didn’t work all that well.  (I didn’t miss the other Hell’s Angels not being in the series.)  I am perfectly fine with changes being made, as long as the end product works.

First off, I absolutely love the portrayal of Aziraphale and Crowley.  That episode with a half hour showing them throughout history was fantastic, and a great example of a screenwriter filling in some gaps from the original story.  I would watch a cut of the show that was just their scenes.  It’s just that, in my opinion, everything else kind of fell flat. 

For example, in the book the Apocalyptic Horsepersons were very important minor characters.  In the series, they seemed little more than glorified cameos.  This is a weird, personal thing, but whenever I think of the book, I think of this woman I used to know.  She might have been the one who introduced me to the book, now that I think of it.  Anyway, I remember her talking about how she loved this one scene involving War.  A scene that wasn’t in the series.  So in my mind, one of the key elements of the book isn’t in the series. 

While that is a personal issue the makers of the series should not worry about, there is one they should have worried about.  And that’s the Them.  There is a lot of Them cut from the book, and I think that hurt the show.  Instead of spending a lot of time getting to know these characters, we got the CliffsNotes, which cut some important details.  In the book, there’s another gang of kids, the Johnsonites who don’t show up in the series.  Well, Greasy Johnson shows up at the beginning, but I don’t think he’s mentioned or seen again.  In the book there’s a scene where Adam and the Them talk about what it would be like if they completely beat the Johnsonites.  They talk about how things wouldn’t be as interesting without them, and how some of the locals would prefer not having either gang.  And Adam comes to the conclusion that it would be better if neither gang “won.” This is the argument he uses later against the forces of Heaven and Hell.  He uses it in the series, but without the setup.  So one of the components used to stop Armageddon just … shows up basically out of thin air. 

Several of the reviews I’ve seen talk about how great Aziraphale and Crowley are, and I agree.  But I think they were made too important.  I always saw them as major characters, but as part of an ensemble cast.  That we saw more of them is great, but I think too much was cut from other characters.  If they had had an extra episode to include more from the book – especially for the Them – then it would probably be something I’d gladly rewatch whenever I reread the book.  But as is, I’d rather just watch an Aziraphale/Crowley cut.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Grab my ebook “The Moon Before Mars” for free this week!

If all goes as planned, then on Thursday the Beresheet lander will touchdown in Mare Serenitatis.  This will make SpaceIL only the fourth entity to successfully land something on the moon.  They will follow in the footsteps of the Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in February 1966, the US’s Surveyor 1 in June 1966, and China’s Chang’e 3 in December 2013.  The big difference between this lander and previous ones, is that it is largely privately funded. 

I am a huge supporter of lunar exploration – both publically and privately financed – so I figured the best way to mark this occasion is to have a sale of my ebook “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” where I go into far more depth on why I feel returning to the moon should be our next step in space.

Hopefully, Beresheet is just the beginning of humanity’s return to the moon.  India is hoping to become the fifth entity to land on the moon with its Chandrayaan-2, scheduled to launch in May.  And then Moon Express – another private company – hopes to launch their Lunar Scout by the end of the year.  It is possible more landers will land on the moon this year, then in the past forty years combined. 

So if the idea of lunar exploration excites you, check out my book.  For this week, it will only cost you the price of a click.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Back to the moon! By 2024?

Yesterday, after a long day at work, I came home to headlines of “NASA to return to the moon in five years!” I’m no rocket scientist or space policy expert, but my first reaction was, “In your dreams.” But if I was given the task, I’d do it with two Falcon Heavies and a Falcon 9.  One Heavy would launch the lunar lander, the second would launch what was basically a space tug, and the F9 would launch the crew.  The three would dock in Earth orbit, and the tug would send them off to the moon.  They’d land, come back up, and the tug would bring them back to Earth.  There would likely be a crewed test run, but unlike Apollo 10, the crew would stay in orbit while the lander went down and up automatically.  Just to fully test it before putting crew onboard.

One problem with this, is that while there are dozens of designs for lunar landers and space tugs, will any of them be compatible with each other, with the Falcon Heavy, and ready to go within five years?  With enough money, possibly. 

Things could be simpler if the mission uses the Space Launch System or the Super Duper Falcon, or whatever it will be called in five years.  Yes, but the advantage the Falcon Heavy has is that it’s flown.  The SLS and SDF are still in the design phase.  So how much of the five years will be eaten up just getting them flight ready?

Now I’m sure some of you are saying that since we went to the moon in eight years in the sixties, with our better technology we should be able to get there in five today.  But two of the reasons we were able to do it so quickly in the sixties is that, One, we had to beat the Soviets, and Two, NASA had all the money they needed in order to beat the Soviets.  It was a Race that our government, military, and large swaths of the populace felt it was of vital importance we win.  What reasons do we have to go today?

I am a big supporter for returning to the moon, but I’m no fan of this five year challenge.  The main reason is that I don’t want a repeat of the Apollo “flags and footprints.” Apollo went to the moon, and they did some science, but the main point of going was to have an American standing on the moon waving his dick at the Soviet Union.  Yes, my Falcon plan might have Americans on the moon in five years waving their genitals at … China, but I want more than that.  I want a permanently crewed outpost doing science and figuring out how to live on the moon, so that outpost can grow into a colony.  Such an undertaking needs more thought put into it and can’t just be thrown together to meet some arbitrary political deadline.