Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Future of IT

Charles Stross has some smart comments up on the near future of computing. Nominally it's all about the future of gaming, but really it's all about computer technology in general between now and, say, 2030.

For the past few years I've been trying to write science fiction about the near future, and in particular about the future of information technology. I've got a degree in computer science from 1990, which makes me a bit like an aerospace engineer from the class of '37, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

Previously, when I thought of Stross' nonfictional speculation about the future, I thought of his essay on precisely why space colonization will probably never be affordable and feasible for large numbers of people. It depressed me, as I'm sure it depressed lots of people who grew up on good old-fashioned space-oriented science fiction. Especially since the bastard is probably right about everything.

But his essay on the future of IT makes me all excited and optimistic about human progress again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The new Star Trek

I just saw the new Star Trek. My immediate reactions, arranged in order from least geeky to most geeky:

- My god, they actually got Karl Urban to channel DeForest Kelley's ghost. That was one of the most freakishly uncanny imitations I've ever seen.

- Presumably Starfleet engineers are eventually going to upgrade from the bridge design in this movie to the bridge design in the original Star Trek. That amuses me to no end.

- The movie declared its creative sources very clearly by making lots of references to the original series and the movies, and more or less ignoring all other Trek. Uhura orders a Cardassian drink at that bar in Iowa, and other than that I didn't notice even one unambiguously TNG-era-or-after reference.

- OK, I agree with everyone who says Nero was an ineffective villain. What annoys me is that his insanity was his only motivation for going out and being evil. What would a rational person have done in his place after being thrown back in time? A rational person would fly his butt over to Romulus, tell them everything he knows, and get Romulan scientists and engineers working on how they're going to stop this natural disaster from swallowing their planet over a century hence. Instead of this, Nero just bellows in rage, sulks for 25 years, and then blows up Vulcan. How'd he get his crew to go along with this "plan"?

- Even by Star Trek standards, that was some magnificently silly science. Especially during the two minutes or so that Old Spock is info-dumping his story into Kirk's brain. And I liked how, when Spock was watching Vulcan's destruction from the surface of that ice planet, Vulcan looked bigger in the sky than Earth is from the Moon. Evidently everything's really close together in that region of space.

- I think they changed the rules for how stardates work. I'm not certain, but I think in this movie stardates reflected real Earth dates in Trek's internal chronology. Fine with me. Trek stardates have always been nonsensical and incomprehensible.

Overall I really enjoyed the movie, although I got the feeling it works better if you think of it as a really well-produced bit of fan-fiction. And there's nothing wrong with that.