The potato question

March 28, 2012 at 11:34 am (WTF?)

A text addict, of course, will read anything.  Which explains why I was eating breakfast the other day and reading the back of a potato chip bag that somebody left on the table.

It doesn’t explain, though, why I read “It all starts with farm-grown potatoes” (bold type in original).

I mean, what other kinds of potatoes are there?  Ghetto-grown potatoes, planted in concrete and asphalt and watered with despair, ambling down the street with their pants around their knees?  Suburban lawn potatoes, hyper-fertilized, well-clipped, and dressed in expensive worsted suits? Or perhaps the dreaded mall-raised potatoes, nourished by consumerist ideology and florescent lighting, tottering along in high heels and way too much eye makeup?

Seriously, marketing people.  Are you even trying to make sense any more?

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Out of the Dark by David Weber (2010)

February 15, 2012 at 10:17 am (military SF, science fiction, WTF?)

I don’t usually spoiler books in my reviews, but this was published way back in 2010, and it is pretty much impossible to express myself on the subject of this book without talking about the surprise ending.  You have been warned.

Near-future alien invasions have been done before, and this one even includes a reference to Independence Day‘s use of over-used SF tropes.  It does not, however, mention the common trope of the special-snowflake status of the USA being extended (with a prominent US role, of course) to the whole human race – that would be the narrative undermining itself.  These types of books pretty much all do that, though I think if I tried I could probably find examples that buck the trend.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about.  It isn’t the lengthy, loving descriptions of arms and armament that I want to talk about either, although the book probably would’ve been 30 pages shorter if those have been trimmed.  Weber’s tendency to include long disquisitions about politics is also on display from time to time, as well.

But no, what I wanted to talk about is vampires.

See, in the last few chapters it turns out that a vampire is unalive and well and still living in the mountains of Romania.  Yes, that vampire.  And he’s not happy about aliens destroying most of the major cities on the planet (and a lot of the minor ones) through kinetic bombardment.  He’s even less happy when the aliens (they’re called Shongairi, by the way) unwittingly decide to pick the wrong villages to collect experimental subjects from – villages he’s taken up the burden of protecting.

Yeah, so.  Vampires save the human race from alien invasion.  I suppose you could say this undermines the typical special-human-snowflwake alien invasion story trope, but then you probably haven’t actually read the book.  I have, and it doesn’t.  The epilogue is titled “Year 1 of the Terran Empire.”

In an era of Jane Austen and zombies and Abraham Lincoln as a vampire-hunter, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  But I still think Weber wrote up the proposal on a bet, and then got stuck with writing it when it actually sold.  I mean, he’s got to make a living, even with the Honor Harrington series still doing so well.

But.  Still.  Umm.  I mean, really???

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