A Compendium of Spacecraft #10


This ship comes from ‘Rendezvous with Rama’, the novel by
Arthur C. Clarke (1973).

Set in the 2130s, the story involves a 50 by 20km cylindrical alien starship that enters the Solar System.

The story is told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept the ship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. The novel won both the Hugo and Nebula.

Although never put to film, the alien world and spaceship has had plenty of illustrations:



A Compendium of Spacecraft #9
U.S.S. Pasteur

Not as well known as the original NNC-1701 Enterprise, the Pasteur (NCC-58925) was a Federation Olympic-class starship that has a more logical use of space, with it’s giant bulbous main section. It has a length of 239m, width and height of just under 100m.


Serpent: A Dane Maddock Adventure
(Dane Maddock #13)
by David Wood (2020)

It’s a big snake!

Things are beginning to feel a bit too formulaic after the 13th book.
Fortunately this is the last book of the series.

And while the author has another planned, this is where I leave the series.

Superstore 1

Superstore is an American sitcom television series that ran on NBC from November 30, 2015, until March 25, 2021.

The series was created by Justin Spitzer. Starring America Ferrera (who also serves as an executive producer) until her departure in the sixth season and Ben Feldman (who also serves as a producer), Superstore follows a group of employees working at “Cloud 9”, store number 1217, a fictional big-box store in St. Louis, Missouri.

The ensemble and supporting cast includes Lauren Ash, Colton Dunn, Nico Santos, Nichole Sakura, Mark McKinney, and Kaliko Kauahi.


Things to Come

Things to Come is a 1936 British black-and-white science fiction film from United Artists, produced by Alexander Korda, directed by William Cameron Menzies, and written by H. G. Wells.

The film stars Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson, Margaretta Scott, Cedric Hardwicke, Maurice Braddell, Derrick De Marney, and Ann Todd.

I’m sure I saw this around 1980-1981 in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre as a student. Only the final speech remains as a memory. And I couldn’t remember what was said.

The film is based on his 1933 story ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ a work he considered less a novel than a “discussion” in fictional form that presented itself as the notes of a 22nd-century diplomat.

The film story is told in distinct parts:

In the city of Everytown, businessman John Cabal (Raymond Massey) cannot enjoy Christmas Day, 1940, with the news everywhere of possible war. His guest, Harding (Maurice Braddell), shares his worries, while another friend, the over-optimistic Pippa Passworthy (Edward Chapman), believes it will not come to pass. An aerial bombing raid on the city that night results in general mobilisation and then global war.

Months later, Cabal, now a Royal Air Force airman piloting a Hawker Fury, shoots down an enemy aircraft dropping gas on the British countryside. He lands and pulls the badly injured enemy pilot (John Clements) from the wreckage. The pilot dwells on the irony that he may have gassed the child’s family and yet he has sacrificed his own life in order to save her. A gun shot is then heard.

The war continues through the 1960s and into the 1970s. The warlord Rudolf (Ralph Richardson), known as the “Boss”, has become the chieftain of Everytown and eradicated the pestilence by shooting the infected. He has started yet another war, this time against the “hill people” of the Floss Valley. On May Day 1970, a sleek new aeroplane lands in Everytown, startling the inhabitants who have not seen a new machine in many years. The pilot, John Cabal, emerges and proclaims that the last surviving band of engineers and mechanics known as “World Communications” have formed a civilisation of airmen called “Wings Over the World”, based in Basra, Iraq.

They have outlawed war and are rebuilding civilisation throughout the Near East and the Mediterranean. Cabal considers the Boss and his band of warlords to be brigands, but offers them the opportunity to join them in rebuilding the world. The Boss immediately rejects the offer and takes Cabal prisoner. He is forced to work for mechanic Gordon, who struggles to keep the Boss’s biplanes airworthy. Gordon takes an Avro 504K up for a test flight and heads for Iraq to alert World Communications.

Gigantic flying wing aircraft arrive over Everytown and saturate its population with sleeping gas globes. The Boss orders his air force to attack, but the obsolete fighters lose.

The people awaken shortly thereafter to find themselves under the control of Wings Over the World and the Boss deads. Cabal observes, “Dead, and his old world dead with him … and with a new world beginning … And now for the rule of the Airmen and a new life for mankind”.

A montage follows, showing decades of technological progress, beginning with Cabal explaining plans for global consolidation by Wings Over the World. By 2036, mankind lives in modern underground cities, including the new Everytown. Civilisation is at last devoted to peace and scientific progress.

In 2036 fashion resorts to Roman Times

All is not well, however. The sculptor Theotocopulos (Cedric Hardwicke) incites the populace to demand a “rest” from all the rush of progress, symbolised by the coming first manned flight around the Moon. When a mob later forms and rushes to destroy the launch, Cabal launches it ahead of schedule.

Later, after the projectile is just a tiny light in the immense night sky, Oswald Cabal delivers a stirring philosophical monologue about what is to come for mankind to his troubled and questioning friend, Raymond Passworthy (Chapman), the father of Maurice. He speaks passionately for progress and humanity’s unending quest for knowledge and advancement as it journeys out into immensity of space to conquer the stars and beyond. He concludes with the rhetorical questions, “All the universe or nothing? Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?

This movie is huge in scope and ambition. It does succeed, although the political solution offered is rather authoritarian.

New York Times Review

Geoffrey O’Brien Essay (JUN 20, 2013)


Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea
by T.J. Klune (2020)

Linus Baker is a case worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside and determine whether or not the orphanage should continue.

This book was read for the Sword and Laser book of the month.

It immediately draws the reader in with it’s narration and slowly unfolding explanation of its world. Linus  is an interesting character and changes as to travels to the island, interacts with the children and returns.

It’s not until halfway through that you realize that this is not a fantasy book, but a story about abandoned children and their care givers. So it surprised me that I read to the end of this  115k work story.

It could have been improved and made more appealing to its youth market with some editing down to 70-80k words.

But in the end there is not much to the story, so only gets a 3/5 from me.


Battle Stars

Battle Beyond the Stars is a 1980 American space film produced by Roger Corman, directed by Jimmy T. Murakami.

The story is based on ‘The Magnificent Seven’, which is based on ‘The Seven Samurai”. There are bits from ‘Star Wars’ thrown in for good measure.

They should have consulted someone who knew a smidgeon about space. Someone who could tell them that nowhere in the universe is ‘beyond the stars’.

It stars Richard Thomas (The Waltons) as a Luke Skywalker stand-in. Looking very earnest and innocent.

Robert Vaughn is Gelt, an assassin wanted on every planet. He has a permanent scowl, presumably to make him look serious.

George Peppard is Cowboy, trying to look as cool as Han Solo and failing. He looks permanently bored throughout the film.

However John Saxon as Sador, leader of the Malmori raiders, knows his genre fiction and hams it up to the max, providing the role of the villian.

Then there is the ship with breasts – that’s right, was this designed by a teenage boy ?

The only good thing about the film is Sybil Danning. Well, not her but the ridiculous costumes she wears as a Valkyrie warrior. This one comes out of a fantasy comic…

And this, has no explanation, structurally or practically….

So is it bad, yes it is. It’s not funny, goofy or exciting. What a waste of second rate talent.

The only thing of note is that James Cameron did the special effects.





A Compendium of Spacecraft #8

Lexx Ship

There’s an interesting shape !
It’s a sentient spaceship, possible modelled on the craft from 2001. It talks, dispenses food and guides it’s occupants.

It has a ‘Bridge’ is nothing more than a control panel. There is a shower out in the open, so Stan can watch.

And. it’s the most powerful ship in the universe, capable of emitting a large blast of energy from his eyes can blow up planets or asteroids.


Resident Alien

Resident Alien is an American science fiction mystery comedy-drama television series, based on the comic book of the same name by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse.

After crash-landing on Earth, an alien sent to wipe out humanity takes on the identity of a doctor. He wrestles with the moral dilemma of his secret mission, while also dealing with a 9-year-old boy who can see him as an alien.

Alan Tudyk is the doctor. Nobody else could have done what he has with the character. He manages to look almost human in a way that can vary from silly and comedic, to nasty and dangerous.

The story romps along with half a dozen major characters, including a young Muslim girl and her male classmate.

The fun odd-couple is the policeman and his deputy.

There is even an appearance of Linda Halilton as General McCallister.

The story moves quickly through its ten episodes with a minor cliffhanger to lead into the second season coming soon.

Its getting good reviews; Rotten Tomatoes reported a “certified fresh” approval rating of 93% based on 29 critic reviews. Metacritic gave the series a weighted average score of 70 out of 100 based on 15 critic reviews.