Posted on | July 25, 2014 | 20 Comments
– by Wombat-socho
The reading has been slack this week because I’ve gotten sucked into Ingress, a vile plot by Niantic Labs (a startup within Google) to get slack, nerdy sorts such as myself out from behind their desks and encourage us to tromp around the landscape to various “portals” and either capture them for your faction – after which you can install “resonators” and other equipment, build links to other portals, and establish Control Fields, all to accumulate more Action Points and rise in levels. If the portal is already held by the enemy faction, you can hack it to get equipment (and AP) and/or attack it to destroy enemy resonators, force links to drop, destroy control fields, all of which generate AP for you and frustration for the enemy. After downloading the software to your Android phone/tablet or iDevice, a player can either sign up with The Enlightened faction, a bunch of alien-sucking commie pinko transhumanist sorts, or the Resistance, a noble band of fighters for individual freedom and humanity, but one can just as easily ignore the backstory (reminiscent of the X-Files) and just call the factions Greens and Blues, or Froggies and Smurfs. At any rate, it’s cheap fun – the app is free to download – and as I mentioned before, it gets you out and walking around. I’ve logged a little less than 22 miles in the ten days since I started playing, and have already reached Level 5. Recommended, especially if the weather where you are allows you to get some walking in without sweating to death.
I’ve been a fan of “Weird Al” Yankovic from the beginning, when just about the only place you could hear him was on the Dr. Demento radio show. So it was very cool indeed to see him finally hit #1 on the Billboard charts with his latest (and possibly last) album, Mandatory Fun This is eleven tracks worth of weapons-grade parodistic hilarity (12 if you get the references in “Jackson Park Express”, which I didn’t) and Lord knows we all need some humor in these trying times.
What reading time I have had this week has been mostly spent on Jerry Pournelle’s The Prince, which for those of you not familiar with it is an omnibus made up of Falkenberg’s Legion and the three Helot War novels Pournelle co-wrote with S.M. Stirling, Prince of Mercenaries, Go Tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta. Good, solid classic combat SF; oddly, while The Prince is not available through Amazon in e-book form, you can get it directly from Baen.
Finally, a plug for Sarah Hoyt’s The Big Ship and the Wise Old Owl a novella about three young people on a generation ship whose leadership has apparently decided to avoid this colonizing nonsense and just stay in space – and in control – forever. But one of the friends finds out that the Builders had a contingency plan for that, and that’s when things get interesting. I wish she’d done more with the idea, but it’s an entertaining novelette and you can’t argue with the price.