Sci-Fi

Crater

This week Sam brings on the Disney with the 2023 direct to streaming movie Crater. In the not too distant future, humanity has just gotten kind of bored with Earth and decided to invest everything in a new planet Omega. This movie is not about that, instead we follow some kids, and specifically Caleb, living in a mining colony on the Moon. Caleb’s father recently died in a mining accident, and since his mother died a few years earlier, Caleb is awarded a one-way trip to Omega, hooray! Only Caleb doesn’t want to go to Omega and leave all his friends behind. Friends like Dylan, Marcus, Borney, and the new addition, Addison. Caleb’s father always told him about how he used to take Caleb’s mother to visit a special crater, so Caleb and his friends decide to steal a rover and take a road trip during a meteor storm lock-down. They make their way across the moon’s surface, stopping briefly to play baseball (sure), and then also to use their oxygen tanks to play jetpacks (what?!). The jetpack game, predictably, goes awry, but once everyone is back safe inside the rover, they head to an abandoned model home showcase to restock. It should also be mentioned that, although this is a largely upbeat children’s movie, this society is freaking dark. We learn that the miners on the Moon are essentially indentured servants laboring for a ticket to Omega that never comes and passing down that burden of servitude to their children. There’s also no entertainment on the Moon, no books or music, the children only learn about mining in school, and are never allowed to leave the small colony dome. And lest you think Earth is doing any better, Addison recently moved to the Moon from Earth after her parents divorced and her mom took her younger brother to Omega (a 75-year trip in stasis) so then her dad took her to the moon to spite her mom. Absolutely terrible. Anyway, the children continue their adventure to the crater, but what they find there is totally bonkers, as is the ending of this movie which left both our hosts completely baffled.

Moonfall

This week Sam crashes to Earth with the 2022 Roland Emmerich film Moonfall. During a routine satellite repair mission—which astronaut Halle Berry (Sam forgot her character name) went on instead of her honeymoon—things go terribly wrong. A mysterious goo causes the space shuttle to lose power and Halle Berry is knocked out. Luckily, her astronaut buddy Ryan (née Brian) manages to land the shuttle safely. For his heroism, he’s promptly fired and loses his wrongful termination lawsuit against NASA. Years later, a man pretending to be a professor is convinced that the Moon has been knocked from its orbit and, oh by the way, is also a massive alien built mega-structure powered by a captured white dwarf star; ya know, normal stuff. No one believes him (obviously) even though NASA, now with Halle Berry in a leadership position, has noticed the Moon moving closer to Earth. This is, obviously, a massive problem, and the standard disaster elements of floods, meteorites, and earthquakes pummel Earth. Halle Berry calls on her old buddy Ryan to pilot a mission to bring an EMP bomb to the Moon to defeat the evil goo, which she is convinced is a malevolent, alien AI that, once defeated, will allow the Moon to correct itself back to its normal orbit. It’s at this point Sam’s head explodes with the terrible science and insane conclusions jumped to in this movie. There’s also a subplot where Ryan’s delinquent son is on a mission to take Halle Berry’s son to Colorado where her ex-husband is holed up along with Ryan’s ex-wife and her new husband. Apparently, Colorado is the safest place to be if the freaking Moon crashes into the Earth. Ryan and crew mount up to take the fight to the Moon, but can they defeat an alien AI? Why is the AI intent on attacking humans in the first place? What the heck is the Moon? We promise, the answers to all these questions and more are both forthcoming and extremely stupid.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 7

This week Sam brings the culmination of six previous episodes with the final part of the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. Kassad is back and he’s ready to kick some Shrike butt! However, the Shrike is still a master of time so Kassad ends up in the distant future where he leads a band of humans against hordes of Shrike in a final battle that also determines how many Shrike get sent back in time. Also, Moneta is there and it’s her first time meeting Kassad due to time shenanigans. Back in the valley, Brawne sets off to the Time Tomb known as the Shrike Palace because her trip to the datumplane showed her that it has some connection to the Tree of Thorns. Sol goes back to the Sphinx to sit and wait for Rachel. Meanwhile, Keats/Severn has a not-very-helpful conversation with Ummon and then dies (kinda) and Leigh Hunt buries him under the watchful gaze of the Shrike (don’t ask how), and then finds himself stranded on Earth. Back with the Ousters, the Consul is informed that the Ousters are not, in fact, invading the Hegemony, it’s the TechnoCore, gasp! He’s also informed that at no point did his actions stem from freewill, but were manipulated by just everyone around him. He does not take that well. Also meanwhile, Meina Gladstone is struggling to find a path forward that doesn’t involve using the TechnoCore’s plan of a deathwand bomb that may or may not wipe out humanity (Spoiler: it probably will). that’s when the ghost consciousness of Severn/Keats decides to bop-around the datumplane/Metasphere a bit having shed his corporeal body. He takes this opportunity to get into the dreams of Meina and also His-Brand-New-As-Yet-Unnamed-Holiness Paul Duré, and give them some very cryptic information that really saves their butts. Will Meina be able to thwart the Core? Will humanity survive? How the heck does Brawne turn the Shrike to glass? Answers to two of those question, and definitely not all three, can be found in this action-packed, jumbo finale of the Fall of Hyperion! While you may be sad this is the end, Danielle could not be more stoked that it’s over.

Hyperion – Part 1 (Rerun)

Far into the future after humanity has spread through the stars to many planets, a group of seven people are tasked with undertaking a pilgrimage to the Shrike, the mysterious and deadly creature that guards the Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion. The Time Tombs are opening and there is also an Ouster migration cluster that is threatening to take the planet, and the secrets of the Tombs, away from the Hegemony. Thus Meina Gladstone, the CEO of the Hegemony, sends a message in a “fatline squirt” to the Consul, who is one of the pilgrims, and tells him to be on the lookout for an Ouster spy among the group. If none of that made sense to you, don’t worry, Danielle is convinced this story is perhaps the most incomprehensible one Sam has ever shared, and totally crazy to boot. Aboard a massive spaceship made from an actual, living tree, the pilgrims gather and agree to tell their stories so they can better understand why each of them was chosen for this journey. First up to share is the Catholic priest Lenar Hoyt, who tells the story of another priest, Paul Duré, who was exiled to Hyperion by the Church for falsifying data at an archaeological dig. Duré plans to study an isolated tribe on the planet, which is composed of people supposedly descended from the crew of a seedship which crashed there hundreds of years ago. To reach the village, Duré must traverse the deadly Fire Forests filled with tesla tress which both absorb and emit lightning, a phenomenon that greatly annoys Danielle since the trees don’t seem to burn themselves down in the resulting conflagration. When Duré finds the tribe, he notices they are dimwitted, physically bland, and seemingly bereft of humanity, and show a cult-like devotion to maintaining their population at seventy people. As he stays with them, he starts to uncover a horrifying secret that shakes his faith and leads him to extreme actions. Before all that, however, is the introduction of a word gross enough to challenge “khui” for the throne of uncomfortable words: Gymnosperm. So get ready for a deep dive into a massive space opera, full of stellar sci-fi words and technobabble, that only gets weirder and more incomprehensible the more it’s explained.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 6

This week Sam brings the penultimate episode of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Picking up where we left off last time, Severn takes a little meditation time to have visions of Meina Gladstone’s war room where the TechnoCore has just the best idea to defeat the ousters: Herd all the Hegemony people to safety in the labyrinths then use a novel WMD they just happen to have to wipe out the ousters. While many of the FORCE leaders love this idea, Meina, and also Danielle, are not on board. Severn also sees the consul being rescued from brigands by his friend Theo Lane, which is the most interesting Danielle has found the Consul to be in quite some time. Severn comes too and is joined by Leigh Hunt who has come to take him to talk to Gladstone while Father Duré goes to God’s Grove to talk to the Templars. Unfortunately, as Severn and Hunt step through the farcaster, they end up not in Government House, but in what Severn identifies as Earth, or its recreation, far from the web. Severn recognizes the area as Italy and he and Hunt are pushed towards Rome on the abandoned planet. Also, Severn develops an instant case of tuberculosis, because Keats. While Severn and Hunt conduct their slow trek to Rome, Meina and her generals observe the first invasion of Heaven’s Gate, which ends in the planet being destroyed from orbit, so not a great start. Meanwhile, the Consul makes it back to his ship with the help of Melio Arundez, but instead of returning to Sol and Rachel, he is requested by Meina to liaise with the Ouster swarm in the Hyperion system to negotiate a ceasefire. Also, Kassad is fighting the Shrike and while not doing too badly, is definitely not winning. Back on God’s Grove, Father Duré has a tête-à-tête with the True Voice of the Worldtree and the Bishop of the Church of Final Atonement. A lot of things are revealed in this conversation, and this is about the time where Danielle’s brain just gives up trying to understand everything. While this section is definitely jam-packed with intrigue and complications, we do at least get a new pope. Unfortunately, said pope is not our two hosts, but maybe next time.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 5

This week Sam returns to his comfort zone with the 1990 Dan Simmons novel The Fall of Hyperion. The Time Tombs have opened and the Ousters are invading the WorldWeb, so things could be going better for the Hegemony. Severn is woken up just in time to take a little walk through the first-wave invasion worlds after filling in Meina Gladstone on the current goings-on of the pilgrims. Meina clues in Severn that his “dreams” of the pilgrims are extending beyond his supposed connection to the other Keats persona cybrid, and somehow this never occurred to Severn. Severn decides to meditate into a vision, and sees Martin Silenus stuck on the Tree of Pain, but through the power of reciting poetry he’s able to ease his pain, and that of those around him, enough to apologize to Sad King Billy who just happens to be impaled right near by. Convenient! Anyway, Severn then goes to Renaissance Vector and meditates again, this time getting a vision of Meina in her war room deciding on a plan to abandon the first-wave worlds so they can take the fight to the Ouster swarms to save the rest of the Web. Severn wakes up and is suddenly chased by a mob of Shrike Cult zealots before escaping into a library with a dedicated room full of Keats poems. Super convenient! Severn takes yet another nap and sees Brawne and Johnny traversing the Megaspehere to find Ummon, Johnny’s “father”, a megalith that loves to speak in koans, so that’s fun. It informs them about a war between a machine-created Ultimate Intelligence and a human-derived Ultimate Intelligence from far in the future, where part of the triune human Ultimate Intelligence fled back in time to the “present” to hide and keep from losing the war. Thus, the Shrike was sent back in time to track it down and finish the battle. That’s just such a brief summation of the lunacy contained in Ummon’s story. Also, Paul Duré is back in the web on Pacem. How did he get there? Two words: Corpse tunnels.

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 4

The Fall of Hyperion is back as Sam finishes up part two of the 1990 Dan Simmons novel. The Consul, Sol, and Paul Duré have been hiding out with the inconsistently conscious Het Masteen hiding from a storm of the Time Tides. Masteen informs them of his original plan: to use the erg he brought to turn the Shrike’s tree of pain into a spaceship and sail it through the stars possibly causing misery wherever he goes. The Shrike, apparently, is not on board with this plan, and after briefly abducting Masteen, he leaves Masteen to die, which he promptly and unceremoniously does, much to Danielle’s complete bafflement. They find Brawne, meanwhile, has had a weird metal tentacle plugged into her neural shunt, and though physically alive, appears completely brain dead. We soon learn that sysadmin Shrike has managed to plug Brawne, and also the persona of Johnny Keats she was carrying, directly into the datumplane, and the digital avatars of Brawne and Johnny decide to go on an adventure through the TechnoCore looking for information. Meanwhile, Kassad emerges from a portal with Moneta in what appears to be the distant future when the time tombs were first created. He sees the Shrike’s tree of pain with Martin stuck to it,and as he approaches to help, the Shrikes emerges. Soon, Kassad is surrounded by hundreds of Shrikes, but that doesn’t stop him from charging in head long to fight them. Back in the valley, the others decide to send the Consul off on the Hawking mat he brought to try and retrieve his ship. Not much happens on the several days he flies back, but he does end up falling into a river, so that’s fun. Meanwhile, Duré wanders off for some reason and is almost certainly taken by the Shrike. Now alone, Sol is approaching the moment of Rachel’s birth. He dreams again of the voice demanding the sacrifice, and in an extra dirty trick, a manifestation of his daughter appears in his dream, begging him to sacrifice her. As the time tombs pulse and glow preparing to open there are only two questions remaining: Will Sol sacrifice his daughter? And will DJ Shrike stick around for the encore? Find the answer to at least one of those questions in this week’s episode!

Can of Worms

This week Danielle returns to her comfort zone with the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Can of Worms. Mike is your typical angsty teen, he doesn’t feel like he belongs on Earth and no one understands him, especially his parents. He’s on the football team at his dad’s insistence, but he doesn’t like it and isn’t very good at it, though it does give him a chance to ogle the cute cheerleader Katelyn. Mike is also a massive computer nerd, but he gets bullied by Scott, the much more popular computer nerd/football player at school. After a series of insane, and quite lame, computer pranks, Katelyn takes a shine to Mike and asks him to make fancy, electronic Halloween decorations for the school dance. Oh also, Mike likes to tell stories and give PowerPoint presentations in his tree house about an alien baby that was launched into space after his home planet was invaded and the alien baby crash lands on Earth where it grows up and feels out of place. The alien baby is obviously supposed to represent Mike, and everyone knows Mike tells this story and freaking loves it. Anyway, the dance is a disaster and Mike runs home and steals his family’s satellite dish to send a message into space about how he doesn’t belong on Earth and wants to leave. What follows is a parade of absolute nightmares as a variety of grotesque aliens with horrific human teeth answer Mike’s call. One, a dog that speaks out of a mouth on its collar, invites Mike to live on its home planet of Puppis (ugh) to escape the onslaught. Mike refuses, and eventually a series of maddening sit-com level misunderstandings leads to Mike’s best friend’s brother being kidnapped by a frog-like alien for its exotic zoo. Mike, Katelyn, his friend, and even his former enemy Scott all team up to save the brother, though Scott is really more tricked into it than anything. Will they succeed and save they day? Who cares! So long as we can end the movie and get away from the insane, eldritch abominations this movie considers fun aliens for kids, Danielle and Sam will put up with pretty much anything, except maybe Mike’s useless prophetic alien dreams, that is.

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The Fall of Hyperion – Part 3

Sam takes Danielle back to Hyperion in part three of his epic journey through the 1990 book The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. We’re off to an amazing start as Danielle struggles to remember anything about the previous episode, but no time for that, we have a lot going on in this episode! The remaining pilgrims awake in the Time Tomb of the Sphinx, and before too long they are shocked to find that, rather than Father Hoyt, the cruciform parasite has resurrected Father Paul Duré. Duré seems rather sanguine about his being alive again, despite his best absolute torturous efforts to die earlier, and the Consul provides him with the records from his comlog so he can catch up on the pilgrims’ stories. Meanwhile, Brawne and Martin set off back to Keep Chronos to retrieve more food and water, but Martin quickly detours them to the dead City of Poets where he plans to stay and write his cantos, which surely won’t go wrong. Kassad, meanwhile, has found Moneta, but she doesn’t know who he is (time-travel shenanigans, don’t worry about it) but they fight and have sex anyway, so really, about as expected. Eventually the Shrike shows up and takes them all through a weird portal, which is a new thing for it to do. Also meanwhile, Meina Gladstone goes on a walk visiting all the worlds of the pilgrims and remunerates on the choices she made, which we’re still largely unaware of, so not much is learned. Martin is writing furiously, approaching the conclusion of his cantos, when the Shrike shows up and drags him away to its massive tree of thorns. Martin, understandably, is absolutely livid that he isn’t allowed to finish his work. Back in the valley, the pilgrims still there find a strange figure coming towards them, it’s Het Masteen, he’s back! Before we can learn more, we cut to Brawne, who wanders through the Keep, grabs some supplies, is briefly waylaid by a rock-slide, before going back to the valley and finding no one else there. That’s when the Shrike shows up and slips a blade surgically behind her ear. Then we cut to Meina Gladstone, at a war briefing, and to the surprise of everyone in the war room, and absolutely no one else, the Ousters have outwitted them again, and are currently invading the web, having launched the invasion decades ago, traveling at sublight speeds to avoid detection. The Web seems absolutely screwed (they really should have purchased a dehubridifier), but Meina steps up, outlines a plan, and then decides to convene the government to declare war on the Ousters (we guess they weren’t at war already?) and also maybe the TechnoCore. What does any of this mean? Absolutely no clue, maybe we’ll find out next time!

The Fall of Hyperion – Part 2

Danielle’s terrifying month continues as Sam brings her part two of the 1990 Dan Simmons book The Fall of Hyperion. Brawne and Kassad return to the other pilgrims with the rapidly dying body of Father Hoyt, and they decide to call in the Consul’s ship to see if the surgery on board can save Hoyt. However, as they pack to go meet the ship, Kassad’s perimeter alarms go off and he leaves to investigate. The others trudge up the valley but the ship isn’t there to meet them. It seems CEO Meina Gladstone has grounded the Consul’s ship lest they be tempted to use it to abandon their pilgrimage, so the pilgrims decide to seek shelter from the storm in the Sphinx. Meanwhile, Severn is invited to go visit Hyperion, in person, by Gladstone, as she wants a “poet’s perspective” on the situation. So Severn visits and runs into one Melio Alvarez, one time lover of the backwards aging Rachel. Severn interrogates Melio about if he still has feelings for the now infant Rachel, which seems like a real jerk thing to do to the poor man, and then he returns to the web, accomplishing not a whole lot on his trip. Back in the valley of the Time Tombs, Kassad is locked in battle with an unseen sniper he assumes is Moneta. He obliterates one of the Time Tombs, the Crystal Monolith, and then races across the valley floor to it smoldering structure, being heavily wounded in the process, but he sees a figure waiting for him high in the structure. Meanwhile, Severn goes to attend a briefing on the war with the Ousters and things are not looking good for the Hegemony. They will need to commit at least a third of their fleet to Hyperion to secure victory. When questioned about whether such an over-commitment is a prudent idea, Admiral Nashita assures everyone that while they grossly underestimated the Ousters up to this point, this time they’re super-duper sure they got it all figured out and should win the war within a week, what could go wrong? We’ll have to wait until at least next time to learn, as Danielle and Sam wrap this episode with perhaps their best business idea yet: The Dehubridifier, pre-orders are open now!