All posts by ntbadmin

Last Jedi

Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi[4]) is a 2017 American epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). The film is produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, and Gwendoline Christie in returning roles, with Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro joining the cast.

The big question fans will be asking in the future is – which is better, “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Last Jedi”.

Two minutes into the film and it’s into the action, exciting and intense.  The movie is 2.5 hrs long, bit it feels more like 3 hours. There is just so much plot crammed into it. The best thing is the plot, it’s unexpected and ultimately satisfying. Just when you think the final objectives for our heroes has been laid down and we will proceed to a big conclusion, it changes. That’s what I like in a story.

It does answer questions about Rey and Kylo. And being the second in the trilogy sets things up nicely for the sequel.

AC Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke
The Other Tiger (1953)


First published in Fantastic Universe, June/July 1953 and collected in ‘Tales From Planet Earth’. Originally entitled ‘Refutation’, this story was re-titled by Sam Merwin, editor of Fantastic Universe, as a nod to Frank Stockton’s classic but now forgotten ‘The Lady or the Tiger’.

As it’s coming up to the anniversary  of Clarke’s birth (16 Dec 1917). So I’m reading some of the stories I missed over the years.

The first is a very short story (1.2K words)  based on the multiple universe theory:

‘Well, let’s be perfectly logical and see where it gets us. Our only assumption, remember, is that the universe is infinite.’

‘Right. Personally I don’t see what else it can be.’

‘Very well. That means there must be an infinite number of stars and planets. Therefore, by the laws of chance, every possible event must occur not merely once but an infinite number of times. Correct?’
‘I suppose so.’

It’s rather silly and in the end, everyone is eaten by a tiger.


Occasion for Disaster
by Randall Garrett (1960)

A very small slip, at just the wrong place, can devastate any enterprise. One tiny transistor can go wrong … and ruin a multi-million dollar missile. Which would be one way to stop the missiles…. (reprinted in 1963 as “Supermind).

This is a random read from the ‘Golden Age of Science Fiction‘.”

It’s well written, but the plot meanders around too much. I had the impression that the author started this without a plan. There are mildly interesting ideas, but with a weak ending it’s not surprising this has become obscure.


Thick 3.1

Nicola Murray MP, new Secretary of State at DoSAC, replaces Hugh Abbott as Head of DoSAC and comes without her own staff, so Glenn and Ollie find themselves unexpectedly keeping their jobs. Meanwhile, Malcolm is arranging publicity for a by-election. The term “omnishambles” is used for the first time in this episode.

A change of personal dynamics as a woman takes on the Chris Langham role as MP. She is portrayed with more agency and more assertively. This makes it feel like Malcolm Tucker has more than he can handle.



Her is a 2013 American romantic science-fiction drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. It marks Jonze’s solo screenwriting debut. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde.

This got a bunch of awards and it’s easy to see why.

Joaquin is really good as a very ordinary guy. It’s a good thing they didn’t make him some kind of stereotype. The works writing letter for other people and has been recently divorced. The film traces  his relationship with an AI assistant that is embedded in an operating system. While the story is concentrated on the two main characters, it did remind me of Robert J Sawyer’s Wake Trilogy.

At times it has a very dreamy quality, sometimes humorous and often very sweary. While it may seem to be a romantic comedy, the main theme that comes through is how we change when we interact with technology, and how technology evolves.


Killer Bees

Attack of the Killer Bees
by Chris J. Pike (2017)


Jim Jones and the unlikely heroes on the Barnburner must stop The Hive before it turns Earth into its latest honey-producing world.

This Novelette (20,000 words) comes from the “Pew! Pew !” collection. It’s a light and slightly amusing tale of a small ship saving the earth from Killer Bees.

There are modern cultural references and most of the humour comes from the situations. Although Jim Jones is the main protagonist, it’s Captain Spectacular that provides the most fun. I though of him as Zapp Brannigan from Futurama.




by Timothy Zahn (2017)
(Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)

One of the most cunning and ruthless warriors in the history of the Galactic Empire, Grand Admiral Thrawn is also one of the most captivating characters in the Star Wars universe, from his introduction in bestselling author Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire through his continuing adventures in Dark Force Rising, The Last Command, and beyond.

This is the story of Thrawn’s origins and the story of his rise in the Imperial ranks.

Despite writing well received  Thrawn Trilogy:

  1. Heir to the Empire, 1991
  2. Dark Force Rising, 1992
  3. The Last Command, 1993

This story just doesn’t measure up. It has the feel of distinct episodes strung together, rather than a tightly integrated narrative. It’s difficult to find sympathy or empathy for the character, maybe except for Eli Vanto, Thrawn’s assistant. Zahn’s prose is to his usual standard. But he has done something different – while it’s mainly written in third person, a lot of the descriptions are italicized and in second person. This is unusual and interrupts the flow of the reading.

The book is long, but never reaches the pacing and intensity to make it exciting. Most of it was a bit of a plod through to the end.

The original trilogy is recommended reading for Star Wars fans, this  is not.


Lowercase Noise

Lowercase Noises comes from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

His name is just Andy, and he is interested in playing the guitar as slow as possible.

The result is music that varies from drone to ambient and post-rock.
In his best album, “James” he is joined by Cello and Violin, resulting in beautiful chamber music.


Bass Battle

Bass Battle comes from Bucharest, Romania and has two albums of solo bass guitar playing. It’s well done, just instrumental with multi-tracked playing.

Prosecution Witness

The Witness for the Prosecution
By Agatha Christie (1925)

Originally published as “Traitor Hands” in Flynn’s Weekly, edition of 31 January 1925. In 1933, the story was published for the first time as “Witness for the Prosecution” in the collection The Hound of Death that appeared only in the United Kingdom.

In 1948, it was finally published in the United States in the collection The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories.


1957 Film version


Adapted for TV and broadcast on BBC One over Christmas 2016. The two-part program was adapted by Sarah Phelps and directed by Julian Jarrold. Broadcast on NZ TV November 2017.

This is one of the best Agatha Christie productions. Not only does the story keep you guessing to the ens, but it adds drama by making WW1 a central theme.