ST:D 1.08

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

The title is Latin for “If you want peace, prepare for war”. It is adapted from a statement found in Book 3 of Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus’s tract De Re Militari (4th or 5th century), although the idea which it conveys also appears in earlier works such as Plato’s Nomoi (Laws).

Perhaps the title should have been ‘Star Trek goes to Planet Avatar”. It’s got everything you need; blue leaves, strange sparky things and a tree of life (er communication?).

This is written by Kirsten Beyer, authors of  at least six Star Trek novels, none I have read.

It isn’t the best episode so far. Little tension, adventure or action. It just plods along to the end. It could be the fault of ex-stuntman director David Barrett. Or the story that isn’t very engaging.

And at the end, it’s not clear if Admiral Katrina Cornwell is dead.


(Robert Langdon #5)
by Dan Brown (2017)

Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a billionaire who is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence…….

This book is further proof that Brown is good at just one thing……. pacing. The plot is preposterous, the people have the depth of Looney Tunes characters and the ideas just SciFi re-hashes.

The presumption is that Kirsch has uncovered the origin of life and determined where we are all heading. Anyone with a minimal knowledge of evolutionary biology will see all the explanations coming. In fact the author seems to assume the readers knows next to nothing of the sciences. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable read as it is more of a travelogue of Spain and it’s buildings. The places described are real and I enjoyed looking them up as they were mentioned.

You do have to go along with Brown’s assertions that the Evolution vs Creation debate will make people do bad things. But people just aren’t invested in this as the writer assumes (most  couldn’t care).

Then at the end there is an appalling tacked-on twist that just feels really cheap and nasty.



Venus Furs

Venus in Furs
by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1870)
Larry Wolff (Introduction)
Joachim Neugroschel (Translation)

‘Venus in Furs’ describes the obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman who desires to be enslaved to a woman. Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew. This is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man’s struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and others in the realm of desire.

The novel gained notoriety and a degree of immortality for its author when the word “masochism” – derived from his name – entered the vocabulary of psychiatry.

Velvet Underground Song




Tau Zero

Tau Zero
by Poul Anderson (1970)

During an epic voyage to a planet 30 light years away, the engines of the starship the ‘Leonora Christine’ are damaged. Unable to slow down, it attains light speed (the tau zero of the title). The disparity between time for those on board and external time becomes impossibly great. Eons and galaxies hurtle by, as the crew speed helplessly into the great unknown.


This is considered a classic of ‘Hard Sci-Fi”. However it’s not Anderson’s best work. A lot of his short stories are entertaining and fun. The essential problem I have with the story is that all the protagonists do nothing.

They are put in an impossible situation by the failure of the ships drive. Hurtling towards the speed of light, there is little plot development of how to overcome their problem. Instead we have melodrama among the crew. In the end the death of the universe drives the plot and nothing else matters.

The ending is ridiculous, however this was written in 1970 so maybe it was before our knowledge of an endlessly expanding universe.

The Star Plunderer is a better read.



Thick 2.1

The Thick of It 

At a ministerial visit to a factory, Hugh is accosted by a member of the public. With Terri away on compassionate leave, only Malcolm can help bury the story, but will he? Meanwhile, Ollie is dating an opposition advisor and hastily seconded to Downing Street to “ring his girlfriend”.


Thick 1.3

The Thick of it 1.3

Malcolm thinks Hugh’s empty flat in London could pose a problem for the successful Second Home Housing Bill. Meanwhile, Hugh develops a dislike for his media-savvy junior minister Dan Miller and Malcolm explains the art of a “good resignation”.




ST:D 1.07

Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Harry Mudd is back. And he has created a 30 minute time loop so he can learn all about the Discovery and  gain control then sell it to the Klingons.

This is deja’vu all over again. It’s an old SciFi trope that has been done enough times. You can guess what will happen, and it does. This episode does nothing to move the overall plot forward. The only change is the relationship between Burnham and Tyler.

The best part was Rainn Wilson playing Mudd. He was having more fun than anyone else (including the audience)


ST:D 1.06

ST:D 1.06 – Lethe

On his way to broker a peace deal with two renegade Klingon houses, Sarek is injured when a “logic extremist” attempts to assassinate him. Burnham senses this, and Lorca agrees to help rescue him.

Admiral Katrina Cornwell questions this decision and others that Lorca has been making.

Burnham attempts to connect with Sarek’s mind, and finds him remembering the time that her application for the Vulcan Expeditionary Group was rejected.

Sarek reveals that the VEG would only admit one of his children, and he chose Spock, his half-human son. Spock ultimately chose to join Starfleet, rendering Sarek’s decision futile.

According to the novel “Desperate Hours” by David Mack:

After she had finished her studies at the Vulcan Science Academy, and having been denied a position with the Vulcan Expeditionary Group, she had acquiesced to Sarek’s insistence that she accept a commission from Starfleet instead. He had told her that he hoped it might help her reconnect with her humanity—though why a Vulcan mentor would desire that for his protégée, Burnham could not imagine.

Otherwise, an interesting story. Not as much action, but more insight into Lorca. The trap at the ending  seemed obvious.


Brokenwood 13

The Brokenwood Mysteries Season 4 Episode 1
Fall from Grace


When Kristin, Breen, and Gina celebrate Mike’s birthday with a picnic in Brokenwood Domain, they are witness to a fatal skydiving accident. To make matters worse, Kristin knows the victim – entrepreneur Andre Barrington, an ex-boyfriend who moved onto another woman – Grace Turner, an adrenalin junkie and fellow skydiver.

As the investigation unfolds, an unsettling truth is revealed. Andre’s parachute was never going to open as the cords were severed. Was it an elaborate suicide or was Grace having second thoughts about Andre? Then again – Andre’s older brother Felix was tired of living in his shadow, and his mother Lorraine’s maternal love verged on the side of sinister. Both of them were jumping with Andre too. And what about Andre’s business partner Dean Young, who was less than impressed by Andre’s work ethic? Mike and his team are forced to confront the old adage: ‘what goes up must come down’ – but not always in the way you want.

Director: Helena Brooks
Producer: Sally Campbell
Writer: Pip Hall



Thor Rag

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

This is the sequel to 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and the seventeenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Directed by Taika Waititi with a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.



Taila Waititi gets superhero movies: They need to be big and operatic. Not serious but witty and funny. With imaginative graphics and a sweeping score. The heroes need to look like they stepped out of a Frank Frazetti poster…..

Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki are just as we expect them. Thor the white knight and Loki the trickster and liar.

Cate  Blanchett is OK as Hela, the brothers evil sister.


However Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster turns more the movie more to campy than witty. The seems to be phoning in his performance.


The best characters are Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk and Karl Urban as Skurge. These characters are tormented and have a character arc through the film. Idris Alba is just wasted.

This is the best Marvel Movie since Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s witty and exciting but mostly fun.