Good News… Of A Promotional Nature!

Good News… Of A Promotional Nature!

As I’ve been talking about non-stop for the past few months, I got a novel in the works. As of the writing of this post, I’ve written 25 chapters and almost 50,000 words (that terrible middle part!) But what I haven’t shared yet is that some lovely websites have promised to promote it as soon as its done. This is a first for me, and something that I’m really looking forward to!

Truth is, this wouldn’t be possible were it not for the professional writing I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. And it all started a few months ago when I was busy updating an article (How Long Does It Take To Get To The Nearest Star). The article was a few years out of date at this point, and my boss wanted it expanded to include all the cool theoretical methods that have been proposed over the past few decades.

daedalus-saturn-9
Artist’s concept of the Project Daedalus spacecraft, with a Saturn V rocket standing next to it for scale. Credit: Adrian Mann

While researching the topic to find out how long it would take a nuclear-powered spaceship to make the journey, I stumbled across Futurism.com and saw that they had reposted the old version of the article. I also noticed that they had reposted a few articles done by little ol’ me, which include the very first article I wrote back in Oct of 2014 (about hibernation technologies for a trip to Mars).

While telling them that a newer version would be coming out, the manager and I got to talking. I asked them if they would appreciate some articles on terraforming, and happened to mentioned that I was writing a book where that was a major theme. To my surprise, they expressed interest in both things, and asked if they could interview me when the book was done.

Naturally, I was worried they thought I was someone who was… you know, a big deal! I was sure to point out that this book was fiction and not some professional treatise. I’m not exactly Mike Brown or Neil DeGrasse Tyson here. But they said it was cool! Then I pointed out that I didn’t have a publisher lined up, and it might very well be indie published in the end. They said that this was cool too!

mercury_map
Color-enhanced map of Mercury. Credit: NASA/JPL

Suffice it to say, I was surprised and flattered. And after talking this over with my boss (I wanted his permission to write content that would be put on another site, he said that was cool!), he told me that Universe Today would be promoting the hell out of it too. I was honored. At no point did I ask or expect that the people I work for would be promoting something I wrote on my own time. But of course, I was sure to let them know that the work I was doing for them is what inspired it.

Were it not for all the research I had been doing about the Solar System and articles I was writing about its various planets, the story would not exist. It actually all started with the article I wrote on Mercury, in fact. Learning about its extremes in temperature, its richness in minerals, its very slow rotation, and its icy poles all made me think that a mining colony would be possible there someday. Especially if it were a penal colony!

Bottom line, when the book is finished, two prominent websites are going to be making a big deal out of it. How cool is that?

And just in case anyone is interested, those terraforming article are now finished and up at Universe Today. There are three in the series now, starting with a rundown of the topic, and ones on how it could be done on Venus and Mars. Next up, the Moon, followed by Mercury and the Outer Solar System. Feel free to leave comments too, especially constructive ones. 🙂

The Definitive Guide To Terraforming

How Do We Terraform Venus?

How Do We Terraform Mars?

 

Serenity, Best Lines!

And we come to the final installment at last. Given the sheer kick-ass nature of the show’s writing, it took me three whole posts to get all the best lines from the single season that the show produced. And it was not even a full season! But of course, honoring Whedon’s criminally under-appreciated sci-fi creation wouldn’t be complete with including the movie Serenity. Much like the show, it had all the elements of classic sci-fi, space westerns, and the touching themes of loss and the ties that bind. So here she is, the fourth and final installment! Shiny!

Serenity:
Quick recap: The crew of the Firefly are still flying, albiet by the seat of their pants. The Alliance continues to expand into the outer reaches of the system, making it that much harder to get freelance work, honest or otherwise. At the same time, the Reavers seem to be pushing inward, raiding systems closer and closer to the core. Meanwhile, an “Operative” is looking for River and will stop at nothing to find her. His appearance coincides with the crew’s realization that her condition goes far beyond anything they’ve seen before. In addition to being a “reader”, she is also programmed to kill and knows things about secret Alliance projects. Following a lead, the name “Miranda”, the crew uncovers a massive planet-wide conspiracy which could threaten to destroy the Alliance itself.

River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.
Teacher: River, we’re not trying to tell people what to think… only how [cut to lab where River is being experimented on]

[My favorite line of the movie, so chilling!]
Operative
: “Key members of Parliament”. Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.
Dr. Mathias: Look… even if River Tam did by any chance read the minds of any of the visiting Parliment members here, whatever government secrets she may have read she may not even remember any them for they are all probaly buried under layers of psychosis.
Operative
: Secrets are not my concern. Keeping them is.

Mal: What was that?
Wash: Did you see that?
Mal: Was that the primary buffer panel?
Wash: Did seem to resem-
Mal: Did the primary buffer panel just fall off my gorram ship for no apparent reason?!

Wash: Yeah well, if she doesn’t give us some extra flow from the engine room to offset the burn through, this landing is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define interesting.
Wash: ‘Oh god oh god we’re all gonna die?’
Mal: [through the intercom] This is the captain. We have a…little problem with our engine sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence and then…explode.

Mal: Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don’t push me, and I won’t push you. Dong le ma?

Mal: Doctor, I’m taking your sister under my protection here. If anything happens to her, anything at all, I swear to you, I will get very choked up. Honestly, there could be tears.

Jayne: Shiny! Let’s be bad guys.

Mal: You all wanna be looking very intently at your own belly buttons. I see a head start to rise, violence is going to ensue. Probably guessed we mean to be thieving here but what we’re after is not yours. So, let’s have no undue fussing.

Zoe: [to a security guard] You know what the definition of a hero is? Someone who gets other people killed. You can look it up later.

Mal: Listen up! We’re comin’ down to empty that vault.
Guard:
You have to give me your authorization password. [Jayne fires into the vault] Okay.

Mal: [negotiating with guard where to shoot him] The leg is good. It’ll bleed plenty and we avoid any necessary organs.
Guard:
I was thinking more of a graze?
Mal:
Well you don’t want to look like you just gave up.

Jayne: Gee, it sure would’ve been nice to have some GRENADES don’tcha think?!

Jayne: You shoot me if they take me! [sees Mal’s gun pointed at him] Well don’t shoot me first!

Simon: Oh ‘one simple job, she’ll be fine’!
Mal:
She is fine! ‘Cept for still bein’ crazy she’s the picture of health!

Zoe: Sir, I don’t disagree on any particular point. It’s just…in a time of war, we would’ve never left a man stranded.
Mal:
Maybe that’s why we lost.

Jayne: I’ll kill a man in a fair fight. Or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman. Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly when I’m gettin’ paid.

Mal: Kaylee, this is a place of business. We can talk about Simon-
Kaylee: When he’s four worlds away? Or the Alliance gets ahold of him and River?
Mal: That ain’t my worry. I gotta finish this job, get us another one. Can’t do that carryin’ those two.
Kaylee: How can you be so cold?
Zoe: Cap’n didn’t make them fugitives.
Kaylee:
But he coulda made ’em family. ‘stead of keepin’ Simon from seein’ I was there. And I carried such a torch! And we coulda…goin’ on a year now and I ain’t had nothin’ twixt my nethers weren’t run on batteries!
Mal:
Oh God! I can’t know that!
Jayne:
I could stand to hear more.

Mal: Fanti. Mingo.
Mingo: He’s Mingo
Mal: He’s Fanti, you’re Mingo.
Mingo: How is it you always know?
Mal: Fanti’s prettier.

Fanty: Do you know that girl?
Mal: I really don’t.

Mal: I’ve staked my crew’s life on the theory that you’re a person, actual and whole, and if I’m wrong, you’d best shoot me now…
[River cocks the gun she is pointing at Mal] Or, we could talk some more.

Mal: What in the hell happened back there?
Wash:
Start with the part where Jayne gets knocked out by a ninety-pound girl, ’cause I don’t think that’s ever gettin’ old.

Malcolm: You had a gorram time bomb living with us! Who we gonna find in there when she wakes up? The girl? Or the weapon?
Simon: I thought she was getting better.
Jayne: And I thought they was getting off. Didn’t we have an intricate plan on how they was gonna be not here any more?
Kaylee: We couldn’t leave them now.
Jayne: No, now that she’s a killer woman, we ought to be bringing her tea and dumplings.

Wash: Inara. Nice to see her again.
Zoe
: So… trap?
Mal
: Trap.
Zoe
: Are we going in?
Mal
: Oh, it ain’t but a few hours out.
Wash
: Yeah, but, remember the part where it’s a trap?
Kaylee
: But how can you be sure Inara don’t just wanna see you? Sometimes people have feelings. And I’m referring here to people.
Mal
: You all were watching, I take it?
Kaylee
: Yes.
Mal
: Did you see us fight?
Kaylee
: No.
Mal
: Trap.

Mal: Zoe, ship is yours. Remember: if anything happens to me, if you don’t hear from me within the hour, you take the ship — and you come and you rescue me.
Zoe: What? Risk my ship?

Mal: She is a mite unpredictable. Mood swings, of a sort.
Operative
: It’s worse than you know.
Mal
: It usually is.
Operative
: That girl will rain destruction down on you and your ship. She is an albatross, Captain.
Mal
: The way I remember it, albatross was a ship’s good luck, ’til some idiot killed it. [to Inara] Yes, I’ve read a poem. Try not to faint

Operative: I already know you will not see reason.
Mal: The Alliance wanted to show me reason, they shouldn’t have sent an assassin.
Operative: I have a warship in deep orbit, Captain. We locked onto Serenity’s pulse beacon the moment you hit atmo. I can speak a word and send a missile to that exact location inside of three minutes.
Mal: You do that, you’d best make peace with your dear and fluffy lord.
Operative: [Mal tosses a mechanism, he catches it] Pulse beacon…

Operative: I want to resolve this like civilized men. I’m not threatening you. I’m unarmed.
Mal: Good. [shoots him]
Operative: [grabs Mal from behind] I am, however, wearing full body armor. I am not a moron!

Operative: You are fooling yourself, Captain. Nothing here is what it seems. You are not the plucky hero, the Alliance is not an evil empire, and this is not the grand arena.
Inara: And that’s not incense. [the “incense” explodes and knocks The Operative out]

Mal: Half of writing history is hiding the truth.

Jayne: Oh yeah, hidin’ up the Shepherd’s skirts, that’s a manful scheme.
Mal: You wanna run this ship?!
Jayne: Yes!
Mal: Well y-…you can’t!

Operative: I’m sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?
Mal
: I don’t murder children.
Operative: I do. If I have to.
Mal: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?
Operative: It’s not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.
Mal: So me and mine gotta lay down and die… so you can live in your better world?
Operative: I’m not going to live there. There’s no place for me there… any more than there is for you. Malcolm… I’m a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

Mal: Ah, hell, Shepherd, I ain’t looking for help from on high. That’s a long wait for a train don’t come.
Book: Why when I talk about belief, why do you always assume I’m talking about God?

Book: [last words] I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.

Mal: This is how it is. Anybody doesn’t wanna fly with me any more, this is your port of harbor. There’s a lot of fine ways to die. I ain’t waiting for the Alliance to choose mine. [shoots Alliance soldier crawling from wreckage] I mean to confound these bungers. Take my shot at getting to Miranda. Maybe find something I can use to get clear of this. So I hear a word out of any of you that ain’t helping me out or taking your leave, I will shoot you down. Get to work!

Dr. Caron: These are just a few of the images we’ve recorded. And you can see, it wasn’t what we thought. There’s been no war here and no terraforming event. The environment is stable. It’s the Pax. The G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate that we added to the air processors. It was supposed to calm the population, weed out aggression. Well, it works. The people here stopped fighting. And then they stopped everything else. They stopped going to work, they stopped breeding, talking, eating. There’s 30 million people here, and they all just let themselves die.

Mal: This report is maybe twelve years old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there’s a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They’re gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I’m asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.
Jayne
: Shepherd Book used to tell me, “If you can’t do somethin’ smart… do somethin’ right.”

Zoë: It’s a fair bet the Alliance knows about Mr. Universe. They’re gonna see this coming.
Mal: No. They’re not going to see this coming.

Wash: I’m a leaf on the wind…watch how I soar.
Mal: [smiling at battle around them] Chickens come home to roost!
Wash: [flying debris glances off ship’s hull] It’s okay… I-I’m a leaf on the wind!

Jayne: Cap’n’s right. Can’t be thinkin’ on revenge if we’re gonna get through this.
Zoe: Do you really think any of us are gonna get through this?
Jayne: Well I might!

Mr. Universe: [via his buffybot] Mal. Guy killed me, Mal. He killed me with a sword. How weird is that?

Simon: My one regret in all of this is never being with you.
Kaylee
: With me? You mean to say, as in… sex?
Simon
: I mean to say…
Kaylee
: [cocks her gun] Hell with this. I’m gonna live!

Operative: Do you know what your sin is Mal?
Mal: Ah Hell… I’m a fan of all seven. But right now… I’m gonna have to go with wrath.

Operative: Do you really believe that?
Mal: I do.
Operative: You willing to die for that belief?
Mal: I am. [shoots the Operative repeatedly] Course, that ain’t exactly Plan A.

[Deleted scene]
Operative: Serenity… you lost everything in that battle. Everything you had, everything you were. How did you go on?
Mal: If you’re still standing there when that engine starts, you never will figure it out.

Mal: You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do since you already know what I’m about to say.
River
: I do. But I like to hear you say it.
Mal
: Love. You can learn all the math in the ‘verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love. She’ll shake you off just as sure as the turn of the world. Love keeps her in the air when she ought to fall down. Tells you she’s hurting before she keels. Makes her a home.

[last line]
Mal: What was that?

Final Thoughts (on an awesome series!):
Well that’s it I guess, show’s over… (Sniff, sniff) Excuse me for a moment! Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let me offer some final thoughts on this series that I didn’t think to mention before. One thing I am impressed with about the movie is how they really got into the mentality of the Alliance in greater detail. All throughout the original series, it was clear that they were motivated by a desire to expand and consolidate, and generally justified themselves with the whole “civilizing mission”, calling to mind the age of Imperialism and the American Frontier, “Manifest Destiny”, “White Man’s Burden” and all that crap!

But here, they got a little more in-depth. Calling to mind more recent phenomena like the goal of “spreading Democracy” and questions like “why would people not want to be like us?” And what was brilliant about the execution was the fact that the people who asked these questions and did these things really weren’t evil. At least, they didn’t think they were. Even The Operative, a self-confessed monster, wasn’t all bad. He truly and honestly believed that he was doing the right thing, that there would be a payoff for other people as a result of his murderous actions. And he accepted the fact that, come the day of a perfect society, he wouldn’t be allowed to live in it. In a way, he was kind of selfless. In a way…

And ultimately, Whedon and the cast captured the other side of the equation perfectly as well. Whereas the powers that be saw their mission as a civilizing one, a drive to create a utopia, they saw the horrors inherent in such a vision. As all fans of dystopian literature know, the whole premise is based on the idea that the drive to create the “perfect society” quickly gives way to a very imperfect one. For in the end, the drive for perfection is an illusion, and dreams can give way to nightmares very quickly!

Wow, deep stuff, and to be found in a space-western of all places. And with so many cheeky and fun lines to boot. Is it any wonder why people who love this show love it as much as they do? It’s a cult classic, man! And now it’s gone… (sniff!) I’m sorry, I thought I was all cried out! But can you blame me? This movie is emotional, and it’s big finish was a fitting sendoff to the show. Climactic, full of resolutions, but still with enough uncertainty to keep the viewers wondering if someday, there might be more to come…

Alas, seems like this show was destined to succumb to its own central theme. Much like the Browncoats, it was stamped out by an unfeeling, remorseless giant known as Fox. But alas, there’s still hope. If I get rich one day, I have said that I would purchase the rights to the show, recruit as much of the old cast as possible, and put it back on the air. Or, maybe just spring for a couple DVD movies, or a some sequels… Or maybe I’ll just buy the damn Fox Network, force them to re-air this show and many others they so foolishly cancelled. It could happen… Yeah, and monkeys could fly out of my ass! Ah well, until next time, keep on flying!

Firefly, Best Lines (part III)

Hello! Welcome to the third and final installment in the “Best Lines” series dedicated to the awesome show Firefly. It seems fitting that I put up the final installment in the show seeing as how my wife and I just finished (re)watching the entire series on Netflix last night. It’s times like this that make me sad that there isn’t a second, third, fourth season to pick up where it all left off. Sad and very, VERY angry! DAMN YOU FOX! Anyhoo, enjoy the list and stay tuned for a follow-up with the best lines from Serenity. Just need to (re)watch it too (man, Netflix is good to me!).

Trash:
Mal and crew are reunited with an old acquaintance – Saffron, or as she’s known now, Bridgitte – who gives them an offer they can’t refuse. Seems the first laser ever made is ripe for the picking, and the owner just happens to be her ex-husband (her first ex-husband!)

Monty: Damn you, Bridgitte! Damn you to Hades! You broke my heart in a million pieces! You made me love you, and then you… I shaved off my beard for you, devil woman!

Mal: This is my scrap of nowhere. You go on, find your own.
Saffron
: You can’t just leave me here on this lifeless piece-of-crap moon.
Mal
: I can.
Saffron
: I’ll die.
Mal
: Well, as a courtesy, you might start getting busy on that, ’cause all this chatter ain’t doin’ me any kindness.

Inara: Right, you’re a criminal mastermind! What was the last cargo we snuck past the Alliance to transport?
Mal
: That was a little dif—
Inara
: What was the cargo?
Mal
: They were dolls.
Inara
: They were little geisha dolls with big heads that wobbled!
Mal
: Hey! People love those!

Inara: Well, since I can’t seem to find work as Companion, I might as well become a petty thief like you!
Mal
: Petty?
nara
: I didn’t mean petty.
Mal
: What did you mean?
Inara
: Suo-SHEE?
Mal
:
…That’s Chinese for “petty”.

Mal: Saffron has a notion we can walk right in there, take the Lassiter right off his shelf.
Wash
: I’m confused.
Saffron
: You’re asking yourself if I’ve got the security codes, why don’t I go in, grab it for myself?
Wash
: No. Actually, I was wondering… WHAT’S SHE DOING ON THIS SHIP?

Zoe: But Inara ain’t wrong. She can’t be trusted.
Mal
: I ain’t asking you to trust her. I’ll be with her on the inside the whole time.
Saffron
: See there? All you gotta do to be a rich woman, hon, is… get over it.
Zoe
: Hmm. Okay. [punches Saffron] I’m in.

River: She’s a liar.
Jayne
: That don’t exactly set her apart from the rest of us. The plunder sounds fun enough.
River
: She’s a liar, and no good will come of her.
Jayne
: Well, as a rule, I say, girlfolk ain’t to be trusted.
River
: “Jayne” is a girl’s name.
Jayne
: Well, Jayne ain’t a girl! She starts in on that girl’s-name thing, I’ll show her good ‘n’ all, I got man parts!
Simon
: I’m… trying to think of a way for you to be cruder. I just… it’s not coming.

Saffron: Durran, this isn’t what it looks like.
Mal
: Unless… it looks like… we’re stealing your priceless Lassiter, ’cause… that’s what we’re doing. Don’t ask me about the gun, though, ’cause that’s new.
Durran
: Well, I appreciate your honesty. Not, you know, a lot, but..

Durran: How long have you been with him?
Mal
: Oh— pfft! We are not together.
Saffron
: He’s my husband.
Mal
: Well, who in the damn galaxy ain’t?!

Jayne: Is spine okay?
Simon
: How much did they offer you to sell out me and River on Ariel?
Jayne
: Das crazy talk.
Simon
: Then let’s talk crazy. How much?
Jayne
: [looks to the door] Anybody there? [River pokes her head in] Anybody else?

Simon: No matter what you do, or say or plot, no matter how you come down on us… I will never, ever harm you. You’re on this table, you’re safe. ‘Cause I’m your medic, and however little we may like or trust each other, we’re on the same crew. Got the same troubles, same enemies, and more than enough of both. Now, we could circle each other and growl, sleep with one eye open, but that thought wearies me. I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but I’m trusting you. I think you should do the same. ‘Cause I don’t see this working any other way.
River
: Also… I can kill you with my brain.

Mal: Yeah. That went well.
Inara
: You call this going well?
Mal
: We got the loot, didn’t we?
Inara
: Yes, but—
Mal
: Then I call this a win. What’s the problem?
Inara
: Shall I start with the part where you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, or the part where you have no clothes?

The Message:
The crew of the Serenity get a strange and unexpected package from an old friend: his body! Initially, it seems he’s dead, but in time they realize he’s alive and smuggling cloned organs to a buyer. Unfortunately, the organs are worth something to some other people, crooked Alliance personnel who’ll stop at nothing to find him.

Simon: Yep—it’s a cow fetus.
Kaylee
: Guess so. It does seem to have an awful lot of limbs.
Simon
: It’s mutated.
Kaylee
: But cow? How do you figure?
Simon
: It’s upside down.
Kaylee
: [looks sideways at it] Oh yeah. Cow.
Simon
: And I’m out twelve bits! I really know how to show a girl a… disgusting time.

Wash: Oh my god, it’s grotesque! Oh, and there’s something in a jar.
Zoe
: Scared her away again, did you?
Simon
: D— This may come as a shock, but I’m actually… not very good at talking to girls.
Zoe
: Why, is there someone you are good at talking to?
Wash
: [looking at the “alien”] Do not fear me! Ours is a peaceful race, and we must live in harmony.

Jayne: I got post?
Book
: Might we all want to step a few paces back before he opens that?
Jayne
: Ha ha! It’s from my mother.
Inara
: So, do aliens live among us?
Kaylee
: Yeah. One of them’s a doctor.

Jayne: [tries on the hat his mother made him] How’s it sit? Pretty cunning, don’t you think?
Kaylee
: I think it’s the sweetest hat ever.
Wash
: A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he’s not afraid of anything.
Jayne
: Damn straight!

[Zoe and Mal open a coffin-sized box to find a body.]
Jayne
: What’d y’all order a dead guy for?

Zoe: First rule of battle, little one… don’t ever let them know where you are.
Mal
: WHOO-HOO! I’M RIGHT HERE! I’M RIGHT HERE! YOU WANT SOME O’ ME?! YEAH YOU DO! COME ON! COME ON! AAAAAH! Whoo-hoo!
Zoe
: ‘Course, there’re other schools of thought.

Mal: Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone’s carryin’ a bullet for you right now, doesn’t even know it. The trick is, die of old age before it finds you.

Tracey: [recording] You know, it’s funny. We went to the war never lookin’ to come back, but it’s… it’s the real world I couldn’t survive. You two carried me through that war. Now I need you to carry me just a little bit further… if you can. Tell my folks I wanted to do right by them, and that I’m at peace, and all. Uh… When you can’t run anymore, you crawl, and when you can’t do that, well… Yeah, you know the rest. Thanks, b-both of you. Oh, yeah, and, uh… make sure my eyes is closed, will ya?

Mal: Oh, the colonel was dead drunk. Three hours pissin’ on about the enlisted men. Uh, “they’re scum”, uh, “they’re not fighters”, and, uh… and then he passed right out—boom.
Zoe
: We couldn’t even move him. So, uh, Tracey just… snipped it right off his face.
Mal
: And you never seen a man more proud of his moustache than Colonel Obrin. I mean, in all my life, I will never love a woman the way this officer loved that lip ferret.
Zoe
: Big, walrus-y thing—all waxed up!
Inara
: Did he find out?
Mal
: Oh! Next mornin’, he wakes up, it’s gone, and he is furious! But he can’t just say, you know, “Someone stole my moustache!” So he, uh, calls together all the platoons…
Zoe
: We thought he was gonna shoot us!
Mal
: …and, uh… Oh, he’s eye-ballin’ all the men somethin’ fierce. Not a word. And he comes up to Tracey, and Tracey’s wearing the gorram thing on his face!
Zoe
: He’d glued it on!
Mal
: He’s starin’ the old man down wearing his own damn moustache!

[Tracey wakes up during his autopsy]
Jayne
: Spry for a dead fella!
Tracey
: Sarge?
Mal
: Yeah?
Tracey
: I think I’m naked.
Mal: You wanna explain to me exactly why you got yourself all corpsified and mailed to me?

Wash: I think they’re about done being stalled to— ahhhh… AHHHHHHH! Mal, your dead army buddy’s on the bridge.
Zoe
: He ain’t dead.
Wash
: …Oh…

Mal: Hear that quiet? Means the call’s already been made.
Tracey
: Well, that call… that call means you just murdered me.
Mal: No, son. You murdered yourself. I just carried the bullet a while.

Tracey: When you can’t run, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, when you can’t do that…
Zoe
: …you find someone to carry you.

Heart of Gold:
An old friend of Inara’s, a madame who runs a brothel, kindly asks the crew of the Serenity for help. On a distant moon, the local Sheriff, a power-hungry and corrupt man, is hellbent on stealing his son from one of the local girls.

Inara: Hi.
Mal
: BWAH!
Inara
: Sorry! Didn’t mean to startle.
Mal
: You didn’t! I was just, uh… “BWAH!” That’s more like a… It’s a warrior like… Strikes fear into the… hearts of… You know, not altogether wise, sneaking up on a fellow when he’s handling his weapon.
Inara
: I’m sure I’ve heard that said. But… perhaps the dining area isn’t the place for this sort of thing.
Mal
: What do ya mean? It’s the only place with a table big enough.
Inara
: Of course. In that case, every well-bred petty crook knows that the small concealable weapons always go to the far left of the place setting.

Inara: It sounds like something this crew can handle. I can’t guarantee they’ll handle it particularly well, but…
Nandi
: If they got guns and brains at all.
Inara
: They’ve got guns

Jayne: Don’t much see the benefit in getting involved in strangers’ troubles without a up-front price negotiated.
Book
: These people need assistance. The benefit wouldn’t necessarily be for you.
Jayne
: That’s what I’m sayin’.
Zoe
: No one’s gonna force you to go, Jayne. As has been stated, this job is strictly speculative.
Jayne
: Good! Don’t know these folks, don’t much care to.
Mal
: They’re whores.
Jayne
: I’m in.

Inara: Nandi, this is Malcolm Reynolds.
Nandi
: I appreciate your coming.
Mal
: Well, any friend of Inara’s is a strictly businesslike relationship of mine.

Mal: I’ll introduce you to the rest later. They’re good folk.
Jayne
: Can I start getting sexed already?
Mal
: Well, that one’s kinda horrific.

Simon: Isn’t there a pregnant woman I’m to examine?
Wash
: You’d really lie with someone being paid for it?
Kaylee
: Well, it’s not like anyone else is lining up to, you know, examine me.
Jayne
: Whoop! My John Thomas is about to pop off and fly around the room, there’s so much tasty here. Ooh!
Wash
: Would be you get your most poetical about your pecker.

Kaylee: Everyone’s got somebody. Wash, tell me I’m pretty.
Wash
: Were I unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.
Kaylee
: ‘Cause I’m pretty?
Wash
: ‘Cause you’re pretty.

Mal: Nothing worse than a monster who thinks he’s right with God.
Nandi: Captain Reynolds, it took me years to cut this piece of territory out of other men’s hands, to build this business up from nothing.
Mal
: Nandi…
Nandi
: It’s who I am, and it’s my home. I’m not going anywhere.
Mal
: Well, lady, I must say—you’re my kinda stupid.

Wash: Well, I’m not sure now is the best time to bring a tiny little helpless person into our lives.
Zoe
: That excuse is gettin’ a little worn, honey.
Wash
: It’s not an excuse, dear! It’s objective assessment. I can’t help that it stays relevant.
Zoe
: I don’t give a good gorram about relevant, Wash, or objective. And I ain’t so afraid of losing something that I ain’t gonna try to have it. You and I would make one beautiful baby. And I want to meet that child one day. Period.

Nandi: Truth is, I expected a whole lot more of you to be takin’ payment in our trade.
Mal
: Well, we’re an odd conglomeration. Got a preacher, a married fellah, and the doctor… well, he’d have to… relax for thirty seconds to get his play. That’d be more or less a miracle.

Mal: Miss Nandi, I have a confession to make.
Nandi
: Maybe I should get the Shepherd.
Mal
: Well, I ain’t sinned yet. And I’d feel a little more’n awkward if he were here when I did.

Nandi: Malcolm, I been waiting for you to kiss me since I showed you my guns.
Nandi
: You okay with this?
Mal
: I’m just waiting to see if I pass out. Long story.

Inara: So you took to bed with Nandi. I’m glad.
Mal
: Glad?
Inara
: Yes! She’s a dear friend, and probably in need of some comfort about now.
Mal
: So, you’re okay. Well, yeah. Why… why wouldn’t you be?
Inara
: I wouldn’t say I’m entirely okay. I’m a little appalled at her taste.

Jayne: [over radio] Whoa, now, girl, that is just plain dirty.
Mal
: Jayne, you aware your radio’s transmittin’? Cause I ain’t feelin’ particular girlish or dirty at the moment.

Petaline: Rance, this is Jonah. Jonah… say “hi” to your daddy. [Shoots Rance.] Say “goodbye” to your daddy, Jonah.

Objects in Space:
A bounty hunter boards the Serenity and takes the crew hostage. His arrival coincided with the crew’s realization that River might be a “reader” (i.e. a psychic) and her decision to leave the ship.

Kaylee: You couldn’t possibly!
Simon
: No, I wish I was lying, I just…You know, we’d all just made surgeon. That was it, we were the elite. The world was ours, you know?
Kaylee
: So you had to be naked?
Simon
: Naked. Yes. And, uh, on top of the statue of Hippocrates. Can’t you just picture me?
Kaylee
: What, naked? Oh, well, hmm, mmm…Let’s see, I’mma have to conjure up a…yeah, that’s, that’s gonna be difficult... So did the feds come?
Simon
: There were no feds. Until I started singing.
Kaylee
: Oh, no!
Simon
: This is not–
Kaylee
: What did you sing?
Simon
: This is not funny. This, this is a morality tale about the evils of sake.
Simon:
[in River’s head] I would be there right now.

Jayne: Not ever ever?
Book
: Some orders allow shepherds to marry, but I follow a narrower path.
Jayne
: But you still got the urge? They don’t…cut it off or nothin’?
Book
: No, I’m more or less intact. I just…direct my energy elsewhere.
Jayne
: You mean like masturbatin’?
Book
: I hope you’re not thinking of taking orders yourself?
Jayne
: Heheh, yeah, that’s be the day.
Jayne
: [in River’s head] I got stupid, the money was too good.
Book
: [in River’s head]I don’t give half a hump if you’re innocent or not. So where does that put you?

Mal: If I want a lot of medical jargon, I’ll talk to a doctor.
Simon
: You are talking to a doctor.

Wash: Little River gets more colorful by the moment. What’ll she do next?
Zoe
: Either blow us all up or rub soup in our hair. It’s a toss-up.
Wash
: I hope she does the soup thing, it’s always a hoot and we don’t all die from it.

Zoë: Where’s River at now?
Mal
: In her room, which I’m thinking we bolt from the outside from now on.
Wash
: That a little extreme, isn’t it?
Jayne
: Anyone remember her comin’ at me with a butcher’s knife?
Wash
: Wacky fun…
Jayne
: You wanna go, little man?
Wash
: Only if it’s someplace with candlelight.
Zoe
: Sir, I know she’s unpredictable. But I don’t think she’d harm anyone.
Jayne
: Butcher’s knife?!
Zoe
: Anyone we can’t spare.

Mal: Girl knows things. Things she shouldn’t. Things she couldn’t.
Jayne
: What, are you— are you sayin’ she’s a witch?
Wash
: Yes, Jayne. She’s a witch. She has had congress with the beast.
Jayne
: She’s in Congress?
Wash
: How did your brain even learn human speech? I’m just so curious.

Wash: Psychic, though? That sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoe
: We live in a spaceship, dear.
Wash
: So?

Jayne: Well, I don’t like the idea of someone hearin’ what I’m thinkin’.
Inara: No one likes the idea of hearing what you’re thinking.

Simon: Are you Alliance?
Early
: Am I a lion?
Simon
: What?
Early
: I don’t think of myself as a lion. You might as well, though: I have a mighty roar.
Simon
: I said “Alliance”.
Early
: Oh, I thought—
Simon
: No, I was—
Early
: That’s weird.

Simon: I don’t think my last act in this verse is gonna be betraying my sister.
Early: You’re gonna help me. ‘Cause every second you’re with me is a chance to turn the tables, get the better of me. Maybe you’ll find your moment. Maybe I’ll slip. Or, you refuse to help me, I shoot your brain out, and I go upstairs and spend some time violating the little mechanic I got trussed up in the engine room. I take no pleasure in the thought, but she will die, weeping, if you cross me.
Simon: You’re out of your mind.
Early: That’s between me and my mind. Let’s start with these rooms.

Early: You ever been shot?
Simon: No.
Early: You oughta be shot. Or stabbed, lose a leg. To be a surgeon, you know? Know what kind of pain you’re dealing with. They make psychiatrists get psychoanalyzed before they can get certified, but they don’t make a surgeon get cut on. That seem right to you?

Early: Alright, that’s all the hide-and-seek I got time for. [shouting] I know you’re on this ship, little girl! Here’s how this goes: show yourself and finish this exchange, or your brother’s brains’ll be flyin’ every whichaway! [normal tone] You understand, I’m sort of on the clock here, it’s frustrating.
River
: [over Serenity’s intercom] You’re wrong, Early.
Early
: I’m not wrong, dumpling, I will shoot your brother dead if you don’t—
River
: Wrong about River. River’s not on the ship. They didn’t want her here. But she couldn’t make herself leave. So she melted. Melted away. They didn’t know she could do that. But she did.
Early
: Not sure I take your meaning there.
River
: I’m not on the ship. I’m in the ship. I am the ship.
Simon
: River—
River
: River’s gone.
Early
: Then who exactly are we talking to?
River
: Talking to Serenity. And Early? Serenity is very unhappy.

Early: Where’d she go?
Simon
: I can’t keep track of her when she’s not incorporeally possessing a spaceship; don’t look at me.

Early: I only hurt people ’cause they keep gettin’ in the way of me finding you. Tell her.
Simon
: What am I, your advocate?
Early
: You are, starting now.
Simon
: He’s really very… gentle, and fuzzy. We’re becoming fast friends.
Early
: You folks are all insane.
Simon: Well, my sister’s a ship. We had a complicated childhood.

Mal: There was a guy. He was very blurry. You gotta be careful. Ugh. How come there’s a guy on board and how come you’re all of a sudden the ship?
River/Serenity
: I know you have questions.
Mal
: That would be why I just asked them.
River/Serenity
: But there isn’t a lot of time, captain. I need you to trust me.
Mal
: Am I dreamin’?
River/Serenity
: We all are [Mal rolls his eyes] Don’t make faces!

Early: You know, with the exception of one deadly and unpredictable midget, this girl is the smallest cargo I’ve ever had to transport, yet by far the most troublesome. Does that seem right to you?
Simon
: What’d he do?
Early
: Who?
Simon
: The midget.
Early
: Arson. The little man loved fire.

Early: Well I’ll be a son of a whore. You’re not in my gorram mind. You’re on my gorram ship!

Inara: Any chance that shiong-mung duh kwong-run might survive?
Mal
: Air he had left, I’d say his chance’d be about one in… a very large number.

Early:[floating in space]Well, here I am.

And that’s our show! As I was beginning to expect, I’ll need a fourth post if I’m going to cover the gorram movie. Gorram, good word! Stay tuned for the final installment! It’ll be shiny! Fei-oo! Go-se! Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng!

Cool Ships!

God, what an obvious extension of the whole conceptual sci-fi thing, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! After all, what is a sci-fi franchise without some cool spacefaring vessels? Sometimes, these come in the form of exploratory ships that chart the unknown regions of the galaxy. Sometimes they are battleships which kick ass and don’t do much else. And sometimes they are generational ships, spending decades, centuries or even millennia cruising through space, ferrying people to new star systems and new galaxies.

But whatever their purpose, futuristic vessels are a constant source of enjoyment and interest. A lot of imagination and creativity goes into creating them, and what comes out is often a testament to the allure of speculative sci-fi. Anyway, today I thought I’d explore some choice examples of sci-fi ships and what makes them so cool. Here goes…

Defiant:
Making its debut in Star Trek: DS9, the Defiant became the workhorse of the station and the first line of defense against it’s enemies. Originally designed for combat with the Borg, the Defiant was a prototype for an entire generation of warship. Smaller than most starships, but also faster and boasting very powerful weaponry, the Defiant quickly gained a reputation for being the most dangerous vessel in the quadrant!

Yep, when this ship made its debut, I started watching the show. Every episode that featured space battles with the Defiant were worth watching, in my estimation. Blasting those rapid-fire cannons, firing those quantum torpedoes, blowing up anyone stupid enough to cross it; the Defiant did it all!

It’s prototype version even boasted a cloaking device, something the Federation borrowed from the Romulans so they could slit into Dominion territory once they found out about them. In time, the Defiant was lost, but more of its kind appeared to take up its role. The Valiant, the Sao Paolo, and a host of others were pressed into service as the series went on and the Dominion War became the focal point of the show. Much like their predecessor, these new Defiant-class ships kicked plenty of asses and never went down without a fight. A big, brutal, hard-slogging fight!

Galactica:
This ship is the namesake of the original movie and series and got a makeover for the re-imagining which was released back in 2005. And though her appearance has changed somewhat since the 1970’s when the original movie came out, the Galactica’s role and importance has remained the same. The last surviving Battlestar of the Twelve Colonies, she is the sole protector of the human fleet as it flees the Cylon onslaught and makes its way to an elusive world called Earth… and salvation!

One thing that did change between the old and new series was the sophistication of the design. Whereas in the 1970’s version, the Galactica was a state of the art, modern warship with laser cannons and a full crew, the newer version was an older, outdated vessel with projectile cannons and flak guns that had been retired from active service. As the series opens, we see that the Galactica was being converted into a museum ship that was meant to commemorate the last war against the Cylons which had ended over twenty years ago. It’s crew was skeletal and its senior officers were also due for retirement.

However, all of that changed when the Cylons launched their surprise attack on the Colonies. Being an obsolete vessel which used outdated computers and had no wireless networks, the Galactica was the only ship that wasn’t crippled by the virus the Cylon’s used to disable the Colonial fleet. After hastily equipping themselves with ammunition and some equally outdated Vipers from their showroom, the Galactica was forced into service. But by this time, the war was effectively over, and the Captain and crew dedicated themselves to a new mission: to find the only other human colony in existence (Earth) and begin repopulating their species.

Despite her age, the Galactica could still surprise her enemies when she needed to. Unlike her more modern companions, including the Pegasus which she met in season two, she had a habit of getting out of some rather tight spots. You could say that in the new series, this ship was a metaphor for humanity; aging and endangered, but a survivor nonetheless!

Millennium Falcon:
Here she is, the centerpiece of this list! For what ship is more cool than the Millennium Falcon? I mean really! Sure, she’s not the biggest or the most heavily armed ship on this list, but she is the fastest, nimblest, and she’s definitely got the most character. In some ways, she was almost part of the cast of the original Star Wars series, and I’m sure everyone felt bad for her when she got scuffed up during that last battle in Return of the Jedi ;).

Officially, the Falcon is a modified Corellian transport. Corellia, the planet Han calls home, is renowned for producing good ships in addition to good spacers. They’re fast, sleek, and infinitely modifiable. It’s little wonder then why they are a favorite amongst smugglers. And Corellian spacers especially are known for being very monogamous and loyal when it comes to their ship selection.

Prior to joining the Rebellion, the Falcon was primarily used to smuggle spice from Kessel to other regions of the Galaxy, usually at the behest of Jabba the Hutt. In spite of its speed, the Falcon would occasionally get boarded by Imperial patrols. When this happened, Han and Chewi relied on a secret compartment to stash their goods. However, on one of his final runs, Han was boarded by an Imperial patrol and was forced to ditch his manifest.

Shortly thereafter, Han and Chewi joined the Rebellion and the role of the Falcon changed considerably. Now, it was involved in attack missions, the most notable of which were the assaults on the first and second Death Star. At other times, it continued to do what it did best – fly fast and elude Imperial ships!

Nostalgia for Infinity:
Here we have an interesting ship, which comes to us from the mind of Alastair Reynolds and the Revelation Space universe. Known as a “Lighthugger”, this class of vessel was one which could travel close to the speed of light thanks to its massive “Conjoiner Drives”. These engines, which were attached to the outsides of the ships, relied on a controlled singularity to generate the necessary inertia to push the ship as close to light speed as was physically possible for a vessel of its size.

The crews of these ships were known as “Ultranauts”, or Ultras for short. Typically, these were the kinds of cybernetically enhanced human beings who were capable of interfacing with the ship’s advanced machinery, prolonged space travel and withstanding the inertial stresses caused by near-light speed travel.

In the case of the Nostalgia, the ship was commanded by a Triumvir, three Captains who took turns commanding the ship while it was in deep space and the others were in reefersleep (i.e. cryogenic suspension). This included Ilia Volyova, Sajaki and Hegazi, three Ultras who had taken over after the Captain and ship had succumbed to what was known as the “Melding Plague”. This virus is a key element to the story of RS, being alien in origin and which infects and perverts nanotechnological matter.

In the course of running their various missions to and from the many worlds of the RS universe, the crew came into possession of a series of “Cache Weapons”, missiles and gun platforms which were apparently of Conjoiner design, and were officially known as Hell-class weapons.  As the series progressed, both the Nostalgia, its crew, and these weapons played an increasingly important role in defending the human race from the alien threat of the “Inhibitors” (see Planet Killers, The Inhibitors, for more detail).

Red Dwarf:
The eponymous spaceship from the BBC series, the Red Dwarf – otherwise known as the “giant red trashcan” – was a huge mining vessel measuring 10 km in length, 6.5 km in height, and 5 km in width. Built for mining and owned by the Jupiter Mining Corporation, the ship is immense, largely self-sufficient, and run by an AI named Holly. And for some reason, it has an asteroid embedded in its hull (this is never explained).

In the beginning of the series, a radiation leak killed the entire crew, except for the protagonist Dave Lister, a technician who was apparently in suspended animation at the time. In order to ensure his survival, Lister is kept in suspension by Holly until all the background radiation dissipates, a process which takes over three million years. As a result, Lister wakes up to find that he’s the last living human in existence. His only companions are the hologram of his former bunk-mate Rimmer, and a humanoid feline named Cat who evolved from Lister’s cat (Frankenstein) over three million years that he was asleep.

Over the course of the show, the crew encounters new planets, species and time distortions aboard the Red Dwarf, all the while trying to make their back to Earth. The largely self-sufficient ship takes care of their every need, though it has begun to run out of certain supplies after three million years (including Shake n Vac and all but one After Eight mint!).

Serenity:
I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about Firefly as of late, but the list says cool ships so I don’t see how the Serenity can possibly be left off this list! As the centerpiece of the single-season series and the movie, the ship has a long story and a lot of character, much like her crew! Originally designed as a class of cargo freighter, the Firefly is apparently an older model of ship that is no longer in use with the Alliance but remains popular out on the rim.

All references to it in the early episodes indicate that the series is essentially obsolete, but due to their ruggedness, shelf-life and the presence of secret compartments, they remain a popular item amongst smugglers. Hmmm, echoes of the Millennium Falcon there. Nevertheless, as the series progresses, this reputation is illustrated in how Mal and the crew are able to stow illegal goods and how Kaylee is able to keep the ship running under tight conditions with all kinds of improvised repairs. And despite the fact that it is no longer being constructed, most of its parts are still available and easily attainable on the open and black market.

Much like all ships in the Firefly/Serenity universe, the Firefly is apparently a sub-light vessel, incapable of traveling faster than the speed of light. Though unarmed, it is fast and maneuverable in both space and planetary atmospheres. This is made possible by the addition of two external multi-directional thrusters which allow for takeoff, landing, and the occasional crazy Ivan (which the crew pulled in the pilot episode). It also boasts two shuttle pods, which can be used as escape vessels or as secondary transports. Inara, the Companion crewwoman, uses one such pod as her quarters and transport for personal away missions.

The ship also has its own medbay and crew quarters, which is another feature that makes it popular amongst spacers. In fact, the availability of a private room was intrinsic in Mal’s offer to “recruit” Jayne Cobb from another gang, which was illustrated in a flashback sequence during the episode “Out of Gas”. There was even room enough to accommodate River and Simon and Book, which would indicate that the ship contains eight bunks in total. A communal dining area and food processors also see to their needs while not sleeping, gun-slinging, or generally doing something illegal!

USS Sulaco:
After barely surviving her first encounter with the xenomorph in Alien, Ellen Ripley and a crew of Colonial Marines returned to LV-426 in Aliens to settle the score! The ship that brought them there was none other than the USS Sulaco – a big, bad, military vessel boasting big-ass guns and enough Marine firepower to level an entire colony. Much like the Nostromo, the Sulaco is a reference to the work of Joseph Conrad, writer of Heart of Darkness (significant? Oh, I think so!).

Apparently, the Sulaco is a Conestoga-class warship designed for ferrying Marines to and from conflict areas in the future. While it was only carrying one platoon of Marines and two dropships in the second movie, this class of ship is capable of carrying 20,000 tons of cargo, eight UD4L Cheyenne-class dropships and a crew of 90 personnel (according to other franchise reference material). Hmm, too bad they didn’t pack the Sulaco to capacity, otherwise Ripley would have never had to take matters into her own hands to kill the Queen Alien!

Much like everything else in the Alien franchise, the Sulaco and all other Conestoga-class vessels are built by the Weyland-Yutani corporation, military division. Clearly, their purpose is to enforce the law, hunt down (and capture) xenomorphs, and maintain the peace aboard its many, many colonies. All part of their commitment to “Building Better Worlds” I guess 😉

White Star:
My personal favorite of this list, the coolest and most badass ship to come from the Babylon 5 universe! Fast, small, and boasting incredible firepower, the White Star was the workhorse of the Shadow War, Sheridan’s campaign to liberate Earth, and the early military campaigns of the Interstellar Alliance. In a lot of ways, it is much like the Defiant from the DS9 universe… I do believe they stole the idea from Straczynski!

As a collaboration between the Mimbari and the Vorlons, the White Star ships were partially based on organic technology. This meant that the ship was essentially alive and could heal itself when damaged. In addition, its organic armor was capable of deflecting energy, giving it a sort of shielding which could protect it from anything other than a physical impact.

The ship’s main weapons consisted of pulse cannons and a single beam cannon mounted in the nose. This gave it the ability to pepper targets with rapid fire shots while conducting high-speed maneuvers, and slicing them with focused bursts while on an attack vector.  All of this came in handy when dealing with Shadow vessels, which are notoriously hard to kill! It also proved useful when up against larger, heavier ships like Earth Force cruisers, Drakh vessels, and anything else the known universe could throw at them.

From the initial prototype, the Mimbari would go on to construct thousands of White Star-class vessels which were crewed by the Rangers and members of the Religious Caste. After the formation of the Alliance, Sheridan proposed the creation of a heavier version which culminated in the design of two White Star Destroyers, the Victory and Excalibur. This latter ship was the centerpiece of the spinoff series, Crusade.

Final Thoughts:
Well, that was fun! No final thoughts today, as I really have none to offer. I just really like cool ships! And much like most toys for grown ups, they are made cool by the fact that they are used for some fun purposes – like smuggling, fighting or exploration – and generally boast one or more of the following factors: speed, firepower, special abilities, visual appeal, and maybe some secret compartments. Any or all of these will do, thank you very much. Until next time!

Firefly Best Lines (cont’d)

Last time, I dedicated an entire post to the best lines out of the Firefly series, and only got halfway through its first and only season! I can’t imagine how many posts I’ve going to have to divide this into to make them all fit and not be totally overwhelming to read! Best estimates put it at three…

Jaynestown:
The crew pull a job on a backwater planet where apparently, Jayne is worshiped as a popular hero. When the local people realize he’s returned, things get real interesting real fast!

Simon: I swear… when it’s appropriate.
Kaylee
: Simon, the whole point of swearing is that it ain’t appropriate.

Simon: What… happened in here?
Jayne
: Needed to find some tape.
Simon
: So you had to tear my infirmary apart?
Jayne
: Apparently.
Simon
: My God. You’re like a trained ape… without the training!

Mal: You wanna tell me how come there’s a statue of you here, looking at me like I owe him something?
Jayne:
Wishin’ I could, Captain.
Mal:
No, seriously, Jayne, you want to tell me–?
Jayne:
Look, Mal, I got no ruttin’ idea. I was here a few years back, like I said. Pulled a second-story, stole a lot of scratch from the magistrate up on the hill. But things went way south. I had to hightail it. They don’t…put you on a pedestal in town square for that.
Mal:
Yeah, but I’m looking at some fair compelling evidence says they do.
Simon:
[staring at the statue] This must be what going mad feels like.

Book: What are we up to, sweetheart?
River:
Fixing your Bible.
Book: I, um…what?
River: Bible’s broken. Contradictions, false logistics – doesn’t make sense.
Book: It’s not about… making sense. It’s about believing in something. And letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.

River: They say the snow on the roof is too heavy. They say the ceiling will cave in. His brains are in terrible danger.
Book
: River? Please, why don’t you come on out?
River
: No! Can’t. Too much hair.
Book
: Is— is that it?
Zoe
: Hell, yes, preacher. If I didn’t have stuff to get done, I’d be in there with her.

Mal: So, that’s where the little ‘Jayne Day Celebration’ we got planned comes in. Should give us enough time to get the goods back onto Serenity.
Jayne:
I don’t know. You think we should be using my fame to hoodwink folks?
Mal:
You better laugh when you say that.
Jayne:
  No really, Mal, I mean, maybe there’s something to this. The Mudders? I think I really made a difference in their lives. You know — me, Jayne Cobb.
Mal:
I know your name, jackass.

Simon: I mean, my way of being… polite, or however it’s… Well, it’s the only way I have of… showing you… that I like you… of showing respect.
Kaylee: So, when… we made love last night—
Simon: When we what?!
Kaylee: You really are such an easy mark.

Jayne: Hell, there weren’t a-one of them understood what happened out there; they’re… probably stickin’ that statue right back up.
Mal: Most like.
Jayne: I don’t know why that eats at me so.
Mal: It’s my estimation that… every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sumbitch or another. Ain’t about you, Jayne. It’s about what they need.

Out of Gas:
A malfunction in the engine forces the crew of the Serenity to abandon ship. Mal stays behind, but is wounded when the crew of another ship try to take him for all he has!

Zoe: You paid money for this, sir? On purpose?
Mal: What? Come on, seriously, Zoe. Whaddya think?
Zoe: Honestly, sir? I think you got robbed.
Mal: Robbed? What? No. What do you mean?
Zoe: It’s a piece of fei-oo.
Mal: Fei-oo? Okay, she won’t be winning any beauty contests anytime soon. But she’s solid. Ship like this, be with ya ’til the day you die.
Zoe:Cause it’s a deathtrap.

Mal: Try to see past what she is, and on to what she can be.
Zoe
: What’s that, sir?
Mal
: Freedom, is what.
Zoe
: [pointing] I meant, what’s that?
Mal
: Oh. Yeah, just step around that. I think somethin’ must’ve been livin’ in here.

Mal: Which one do you figured tracked us?
Zoe: The ugly one, sir.
Mal: Could you be more specific?

al: Looks can be deceiving.
Jayne: Not as deceiving as a lowdown, dirty… deceiver.

Wash: What do you expect me to do, Mal?
Mal
: Whatever you have to! And if you can’t do it from here, then get a suit on and go outside on the side of the boat—
Wash
: And what?! Wave my arms around?
Mal
: Wave your arms around, jump up and down, divert the navsats to the transmitter – whatever.
Wash
: Divert the— Right! Because teenage pranks are fun when you’re about to die!
Mal
: Give the beacon a boost, wouldn’t it?
Wash
: Yes, Mal! It would boost the signal. But even if some passerby did happen to receive, all it would do is muck up their navigation!
Mal
: Could be that’s true.
Wash
: Damn right, it’s true! They’d be forced to stop and dig out our signal before they could even go anyplace.
Wash
: Well, maybe I should do that then!
Mal
: Maybe you should!
Wash
: Ok!
Mal
: Good!
Wash
: Fine!

Kaylee: You offerin’ me a job?
Bester: W-w-w—what?
Mal: Believe I just did.
Kaylee: I just gotta ask my folks. Don’t leave without me!
Bester: Mal! What do you need two mechanics for?
Mal: I really don’t.

Ariel:
The crew agrees to pull a job for Simon on the core planet of Ariel. In exchange for getting him and his sister into a hospital, so he can examine her and determine what Alliance scientists did to her, they will get to a chance to steal some lucrative medical supplies.

[Jayne spits on his sharpening stone and sharpens his big knife]
Simon
: Could you not do that while we’re… ever?
Wash
: So, two days in a hospital? That’s awful! Don’t you just hate doctors?
Simon
: Hey!
Wash
: I mean, present company excluded.
Jayne
: Let’s not be excludin’ people. That’d be rude.

[River slashes Jayne’s chest.]
River
: He looks better in red.

[Practicing their cover story]
Mal:
Patients were cynical and not responding and we couldn’t bring ’em back-
Simon:
They were cyanotic and not responsive.

Simon: What about cortical electrodes?
Jayne
: Oh! …We forget ’em.
Simon
: Let’s try that again.

Mal: Pupils were fixed and dilapitated—
Simon
: Dilated.
Mal
: Dilated. Dilated! Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng! Shiny.

[At the hospital]
Emergency Nurse
: What do you got?
Mal
: Got a couple DOAs. By the time we got there—
Emergency Nurse
: Take them down to the morgue.
Jayne
: We applied the cortical electrodes, but we were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient!

Mal: Now all we need is a coupla patients.
Simon:
Corpses, actually.  For this plan to work, River and I will have to be dead.
Jayne:
I’m starting to like this plan.

Mal: You know, I hear tell they used to keelhaul traitors back in the day. I don’t have a keel to haul you on, so…
Jayne: What’re you takin’ it so personal for? It ain’t like I ratted you out to the feds!
Mal: Oh, but you did! You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But since that’s a concept you can’t seem to wrap your head around, then you got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne. And that’s a fact.

Simon: I brought some medicine. Do you remember why we went to hospital?
River: It’s time to go to sleep again.
Simon: No, mei-mei. It’s time to wake up.

War Stories:
Mal and Wash are abducted by their old client and crimelord, Niska. In the course of being tortured, they get to work out some of their issues regarding his and Zoe’s relationship.

Book: [quoting Xiang Yu] He said, “Live with a man forty years. Share his house, his meals… speak on every subject… then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano’s edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man.”
Simon: What if you don’t live near a volcano?
Book: I expect he was being poetical.
Simon: Sadistic crap legitimized by florid prose. Tell me you’re not a fan.
Book: I’m just wondering if they were. The people who did this to your sister.

Mal: Ah, the pitter-patter of tiny feet in huge combat boots… SHUT UP! …One of you is gonna fall and die, and I’m not cleaning it up!

Kaylee: Zoe, how come you always cut your apples?
Wash
: You do?
Kaylee
: Her and Cap’n both. Whenever we get fresh fruit, they never just munch on ’em.
Zoe
: You know what a griswald is?
Jayne
: It’s a grenade.
Zoe
: About the size of a battery, responds to pressure. Our platoon was stuck in a trench outside of New Casmir during the winter campaign. More than a week, completely cut off, and the Alliance entrenched not ten yards away. We even got to talkin’ to ’em, yelling across insults and jokes and such, ’cause [there was] no ammo to speak of, no orders, so what’re you gonna do? We mentioned that we were out of rations and ten minutes later, a bunch of apples rained into the trench.
Wash
: And they grew into a big tree, and they all climbed up the tree to a magical land with unicorns and a harp!
Kaylee
: Blew off their heads, huh?
Zoe
: Cap’n said wait, but they were so hungry…Don’t make much noise, just little pops and there’s three guys that kinda just…end at the rib cage.
Wash
: But these apples are healthsome, and good.
Jayne
: Yeah, grenades cost extra.

Wash: And then came the lying to me about it, which for me is sort of the highlight of this little adventure.
Zoe
: Is there any way I’m gonna get out of this with honor and dignity?
Wash
: You’re pretty much down to ritual suicide, lamby-toes.

Zoe: I thought your plan was too risky! I thought.
Wash
: Then tell me. I am a large, semi-muscular man. I can take it. Don’t hide behind Mal ’cause you know he’ll shoot it down for you. Tell me.
Zoe
: Right. ‘Cause what this marriage needs is one more shouting match!
Wash
: No, what this marriage needs is one less husband.

[Inara’s client, a woman, walks in]
Mal:…Huh.
Book: Oh, my.
Kaylee: Oh, gosh, I-I knew she took female clients, I just, uh- They look so glamorous together.
Jayne:…I’ll be in my bunk.

Wash: Didn’t want you taking off without me. In fact, didn’t want you taking off at all. Thought I might take this run instead. Me and the Captain.
Mal: The Captain who’s standing right here telling you that’s not gonna happen?
Wash: Well, it’s a dangerous mission, sir. I can’t stand the thought of something happening that might cause you two to come back with another thrilling tale of bonding and adventure. I just can’t take that right now.
Mal: Okay, um, I’m lost. Uh, I’m angry, and I’m armed, so if you two have something that you need to work out –

Wash: Hey, I’ve been in a firefight before. Well, I was in a fire. Actually, I was fired, from a fry cook opportunity. I can handle myself.

Wash: I don’t want you to spare me, Mal. If you think you know what’s happening then you tell me. You wouldn’t spare Zoe if she were in this situation with you, would you? You would be planning, and plotting, and possibly scheming. So, whatever Zoe would do in this instance is what I wanna do. And you know why? Because no matter how ugly it gets, you two always come back. With the stories. So… I’m Zoe. Now… what do I do?
Mal
: Probably not talk quite so much.
Wash
: Right. Less talking. She’s terse. I can be terse. Once in flight school, I was laconic... If I’m not gonna talk, then you have to!

Zoe: Preacher, don’t the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killin’?
Book
: Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps.

Zoe: Jayne. This somethin’ the Captain has to do for himself.
Mal
: No! No, it’s not!
Zoe
: Oh. [shoots the henchman.]

Mal: So— I hear you all took up arms in that little piece of action back there. How you farin’ with that, Doctor?
Simon
: I don’t know. I, uh, I never— never shot anyone before.
Book
: I was there, son. I’m fair sure you haven’t shot anyone… yet.

Mal: I know it’s a…  difficult mission, but you and I… have to get it on.
Zoe
: I understand. We have no choice. [deadpan] Take me, sir. Take me hard.
Jayne
: Well, somethin’ about that is just downright unsettlin’.
Wash
: We’ll be in our bunk.
Jayne
: Oh, hey— [smacks Mal in the chest where he’s injured] free soup!

And I’m still not done! But I already predicted this would take at least three posts. So stay tuned for what is likely to be (presumably) the final installment in the Firefly/Serenity series!

Firefly Best Lines!

Part of what made Fireflythe best show to ever get cancelled by the Faux Network was its many, many awesome lines. Depending on the tone of things, they could cheeky, witty, smart-assed, or just downright hilarious. And after giving the show a review, I thought I might dredge up some of the better ones that I happen to recall (or can find with the help of Wiki!) Enjoy!

Pilot/Serenity:
The introductory episode, where we get to meet the extended crew, learn about their various plights, and set up the rest of the show. Among the more important aspects were the fencing of stolen goods, the introduction of Simon and River, , and the revelation that the Alliance is onto the fact that they have fugitives aboard.

Wash [as Stegosaurus]: Yes… yes. This is a fertile land, and we will thrive. We will rule over all this land, and we will call it… This Land.
Wash
[as Allosaurus]: I think we should call it… your grave!
Wash
[as Stegosaurus]: Ah! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
Wash
[as Allosaurus]: Ha ha ha! Mine is an evil laugh! Now DIE!

Zoe: Sir, we don’t want to deal with Patience again.
Mal
: Why not?
Zoe
: She shot you.
Mal
: Well, yeah, she did a bit.

Mal: You will keep a civil tongue in that mouth or I will sew it shut. Is there an understanding between us?
Jayne: You don’t pay me to talk pretty. Just because Kaylee gets lubed up over some big-city dandy-
Mal: Walk away from this table, right now.
Simon
: What do you pay him for?
Mal: What?
Simon: I was curious… what is his job on this ship?
Mal: … Public relations.

Mal: I got to know how close the Alliance is, exactly how much you told them ‘fore Wash scrambled your call. So I’ve given Jayne here the job of finding out.
Jayne
: [draws a huge knife] He was non-specific as to how.

Jayne: Testing, testing. Captain, can you hear me?
Mal: I’m standing right here.
Jayne: You’re coming through good and loud.
Mal: ‘Cause I’m standing right here.

Mal: But he did try to get you to turn on me?
Jayne
: Yeah.
Mal
: So, why didn’t you?
Jayne
: Money wasn’t good enough.
Mal
: What happens when it is?
Jayne
: Well, that’ll be an interesting day.

The Train Job:
Mal and the crew agree to take on a heist job in order to turn around their fortunes. However, things get complicated when they realize that the loot is medicine which the locals sorely need.

Lund: You know, your coat is kinda a brownish color…
Mal
: It was on sale.
Lund
: You didn’t toast. You know, I’m thinkin’ you one of ‘em In’e’pen’ents.
Mal
: And I’m thinkin’ you weren’t burdened with an overabundance of schooling. So why don’t we just ignore each other until we go away?
Lund
: The In’e’pen’ents were a bunch of cowardly, inbred piss-pots. Should’ve been killed off of every world spinnin’.
Mal
: Say that to my face.
Lund
: I said you’re a coward and a piss-pot. Now what are you gonna do about it?
Mal
: Nothing. I just wanted you to face me so she could get behind you.

Inara: What did I say to you about barging into my shuttle?
Mal
: That it was manly and impulsive?
Inara
: Yes, precisely. Only the exact phrase I used was, “Don’t.”

Jayne: You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til you understand who’s in ruttin’ command here! Now we’re finishing this deal, and then maybe, maybe we’ll come back for those morons… got themselves caught… and you can’t change that by getting all… bendy.
Wash
: All what?
Jayne
: You got the light… from the console to keep you… lifting you up… they shine like… little angels [falls flat on the floor.]
Wash
: Did he just go crazy and fall asleep?
Simon
: I told him to sit down.

Sheriff Bourne: You were truthful back in town. These are tough times. A man can get a job, he might not look too close at what that job is. But a man learns all the details of a situation like ours… well… then he has a choice.
Mal
: I don’t believe he does.

Mal: Now this is all the money Niska gave us in advance. You give it back to him, tell him the job didn’t work out. We’re not thieves… well, we are thieves, but the point is we’re not taking what’s his. We’ll stay out of his way as best we can from here on in. You’ll explain that’s best for everyone, okay?
Crow
: Keep the money. Use it to buy a funeral. It doesn’t matter where you go, or how far you fly, I will hunt you down, and the last thing you see will be my blade.
Mal
: Darn. [kicks Crow into Serenity’s engine intake. Cut to another henchman being placed before Mal]
Mal
: Now this is all the money Niska gave us in advance—
Henchman
: Oh, I get it! I’m good. Best thing for everybody. I’m right there with you.

Bushwhacked:
The crew of the Firelfy come upon a derelict ship, which turns out to be carrying a survivor of a Reaver attack. After being pulled aboard by an Alliance cruiser, the passenger escapes from their medbay and begins wreaking havoc.

Zoe: Proximity alert. Must be coming up on something.
Wash:
Oh my god. What can it be? We’re all doomed! Who’s flying this thing!? Oh right, that would be me. Back to work.

Simon: Oh yes, he’s a real beast. [looks at Jayne] It’s a wonder you’re still alive.
Jayne
: Looked bigger when I couldn’t see him.

Alliance Commander: You fought with Captain Reynolds in the war?
Zoe: Fought with a lot of people in the war.
Alliance Commander:
And your husband?
Zoe:
Fight with him sometimes, too.

Mal: That poor bastard you took off my ship. He looked right into the face of it—was made to stare.
Harken
: “It”?
Mal
: That darkness. Kind of darkness you can’t even imagine. Blacker than the space it moves through.
Harken
: Very poetic.
Mal
: They made him watch. He probably tried to turn away, and they wouldn’t let him. You call him a survivor? He’s not. A man comes up against that kind of will, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it.

Shindig:
A formal ball takes place and Mal, Inara are both in attendance as part of a job. However, Mal bites off more than he can chew when he slugs a patron and is challenged to a sword fight.

(Mal shows Inara the money he stole from the slaver)
Inara: Mal!
Mal: Oh, terrible shame. ‘Course, they won’t discover it till they go order their next round of drinks.
Slaver: Wei.
Mal: Good drinker, that one.

Zoe: Planet’s coming up a mite fast.
Wash
: That’s just ’cause— I’m going down too quick. Likely crash and kill us all.
Mal: Well, that happens, let me know.

Badger: Course you couldn’t buy an invite with a diamond the size of a testicle. I’ve got my hands on a couple. [Mal and Jayne grin] Of invites!

Atherton: You belong here, Inara, not on that flying piece of go-se. You see that, don’t you?
Inara: Atherton, language.
Atherton: What? “Piece of go-se”? But it is a piece of go-se.
Major Domo: Miss Kaywinnet Lee Frye and escort.
Inara: Kaylee? [Kaylee enters with Mal] Oh, go-se.

[Mal is challenged to a duel]
Mal: Well why wait? Where’s that guard? He collected a whole mess of pistols.
Nobleman: If you require it, any gentleman here can give you use of a sword.
Mal: Use of a s-what?

Mal: Now, you taking on this job – being my second – does this mean we’re in business?
Sir Warwick Harrow:
It means you’re in mortal danger. But you mussed up Atherton’s face, and that has endeared you to me somewhat.

Sir Warwick: You have to finish it, lad. [Mal doesn’t move] You have to finish it. For a man to lay beaten, yet breathing? It makes him a coward.
Inara
: It’s humiliation.
Mal
: It would be humiliating, having to lie there while the better man refuses to spill your blood. Mercy is the mark of a great man. [lightly stabs Atherton] Guess I’m just a good man. [Stabs again] Well, I’m all right.

Safe:
During a routine cargo haul, Book is wounded in a firefight. Things are further complicated as River and Simon (the ship’s surgeon) are kidnapped by some local villagers.

Mal: So, she’s added cussing and hurling about of things to her repertoire. She really is a prodigy.
Simon:
It’s just a bad day.
Mal:
No, a bad day is when someone’s yellin’ spooks the cattle. Understand? You ever see cattle stampede when they got no place to run? It’s kind of like a…a meat grinder. And it’ll lose us half the herd.
Simon:
She hasn’t gone anywhere near the cattle.
Mal:
No, but in case you hadn’t noticed, her voice kinda carries. We’re two miles above ground and they can probably hear her down there. Soon as we unload, she can holler until our ears bleed.” (to River) “Although I would take it as a kindness if she didn’t.
River:
The human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.
Mal:
See, morbid and creepifying, I got no problem with, long as she does it quiet-like.

Zoe: You sanguine about the kind of reception we’re apt to receive on an Alliance ship, Cap’n?
Mal: Absolutely. What’s ‘sanguine’ mean?
Zoe:
  ‘Sanguine’. Hopeful. Plus — point of interest — it also means ‘bloody’.
Mal: Well, that pretty much covers all the options, don’t it?

Jayne: [mock reading Simon’s journal] “Dear Diary…today I was pompous and my sister was crazy.” [flips page] “Today, we were kidnapped by hill folk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever.”

Mal: Y’all see the man hanging out of the spaceship with the really big gun? Now I’m not saying you weren’t easy to find but it was kinda out of our way, and he didn’t want to come in the first place. Man’s lookin’ to kill some folk. So really, it’s his will y’all should worry about thwarting.

Simon: So, finally a decent wound on this ship, and I miss out. I’m sorry.
Mal
: Well, you were busy trying to get yourself lit on fire. It happens.

Our Mrs. Reynolds:
After foiling some bandits on a remote colony, Mal is compensated with a rare gift… a new wife! However, she proves to be more than what she appears to be and betrays him and the crew to some salvagers, leaving Mal and the crew scurrying to save the ship.

Bandit: You gonna give us what’s due us. And every damn thing else on that boat. And I think maybe you gonna give me a little one-on-one time with the missus.
Jayne
: Oh, I think you might wanna reconsider that last part. See, I married me a powerful ugly creature.
Mal
: How can you say that? How can you shame me in front of new people?
Jayne
: If I could make you prettier I would!
Mal
: You are not the man I met a year ago!

Inara: So… explain to me again why Zoe wasn’t in the dress?
Mal
: Tactics, woman. Needed her in the back. Besides, them soft cotton dresses feel kinda nice. There’s a whole… airflow.
Inara
: And you’d know that because…?
Mal
: You can’t open the book of my life and jump in the middle. Like woman, I am a mystery.

Wash: Is there any more where that came from?
Saffron
: I didn’t think to make enough for your friends… But everything’s laid out if you’d like to cook for your husband.
Wash
: Z— heh-heh… Isn’t she quaint? I’m just not hungry.

Book: If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.
Mal:
Are you offering me a trade?
Jayne:
A trade!? Hell, it’s theft! This is the best damn gun made by man. It has extreme sentimental value. It’s miles more worthy than what you got.
Mal: What I got? She has a name.
Jayne: So does this! I call it Vera.
Mal: Well, my days of taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

Saffron: But we’ve been wed. Aren’t… we to become one flesh?
Mal
: Well, no, uh… we’re still two fleshes here, and… I think… that your flesh oughta… sleep somewhere else.
Saffron
: I’m sorry. When we talked, I’d hoped, but I—
Mal
: Whoa, hey! Flesh. Um… Saffron… i-it… it ain’t a question of pleasing me. It’s more a question of what’s…um… of what’s morally right.
Saffron
: I do know my Bible, sir. [Recites a fictional bible verse] “On the night of their betrothal, the wife shall open to the man as the furrow to the plow, and he shall work in her, in and again, till she bring him to his fall, and rest him then upon the sweat of her breast.”
Mal: Whoa. Good Bible.

Saffron: Do you know the myth of Earth-That-Was?
Wash
: Not so much.
Saffron
: That when she was born, she had no sky, and was open, inviting. And the stars would rush into her, through the skin of her…
Wash
: Huh.
Saffron
: …making the oceans boil with sensation. And when she could endure no more ecstasy, she puffed up her cheeks and blew out the sky.
Wash
: Whoa. Good myth.

Saffron: Everybody plays each other. That’s all anybody ever does. We play parts.
Mal
: You’ve got all kinds o’ learnin’ and you made me look the fool without even trying, yet here I am, with a gun to your head. That’s ’cause I got people with me. People who trust each other, who do for each other, and ain’t always lookin’ for the advantage.
Saffron
: Promise me you’re gonna kill me soon.

Mal: So here’s where I’m fuzzy. You got by that girl, came and found me, and somehow you happen to just trip and fall.
Inara
: What do you mean?
Mal
: Come on, Inara. How’s about we don’t play. You didn’t just trip, did you?
Inara
: No.
Mal
: Well, isn’t that something… I knew you let her kiss you.

As this is going long, I shall be breaking it down into another two posts. That ought to be enough to cover the remaining episodes and the movie… maybe. No promises though, lot of good lines in this show ;)

Of Kowloon’s Walled City and “Virtual Light” (by Gibson)

Just finished reading Gibson’s first installment in the “Bridge Trilogy”, and was reasonably impressed with it. In addition to being a good intro to his pre-Bigend series, it also gave me some insight into the writer himself and his inspirations. For starters, and I urge everyone to go look this up, I’d never heard of Kowloon’s Walled City before, nor did I know that was what inspired The Bridge for which the trilogy is named.

In short, this city began as a Chinese fort but became part of Britain’s mandate after they acquired Hong Kong in the lease of 1898. Since that time, it evolved into a massive squatter community, a place for refugees, migrants, drug dealers, thugs, and the poor and downtrodden. Although it had a reputation for being a den of crime, gambling and prostitution, it was also home to over 33,000 people. At least, until the Hong Kong government decided to demolish it in 1993. It took over a year to complete the process, and only after a very intense eviction process.

After reading about all this, I could see where Gibson got the idea for “The Bridge”, which is the center point of Virtual Light and other stories in the trilogy. Set in San Francisco in 2005, the Golden Gate bridge has become a squatter city of its own. This was due mainly to the fact that San Fran was devastated by the “Little Grande” (aka. the Big One), and this and other factors had a dramatic impact on the city. Like many of his other works, the US and North America have become fragmented shadows of their former selves, and private companies enjoy ridiculous amounts of power.

And, as usual, the main characters are freelance people who get caught up in a scheme that is far bigger than themselves. Add to that some cooky religious cult and an interesting side story about Shapely, a man who inadvertently cured AIDS and became a sainted figure, and you’ve got Gibson’s usual take on America of the future, a gritty, dirty place, marked by polarized wealth, private contractors, high-tech assassins, and corporate scheming. It was fun, enjoyable, and the concept of the Bridge was both novel and entertaining.

Now for the weak points. For starters, I really didn’t feel the whole “post-millennium shock” thing. While it was a very interesting idea, it was not as well developed or convincing as I was hoping. In addition, the techno-angle, not as intriguing as I would have hoped. The glasses, which are the MacGuffin of the story, were interesting enough, but really didn’t blow my mind the way some of his other works have. And the story’s setting just doesn’t seem realistic given that it was set only a decade from when he wrote it. It seemed far-fetched that nanotechnology and the disintegration of America could have happened in such a short time.

Perhaps that was why I felt unconvinced throughout, the fact that it was all taking place in 2005. Too soon to seem real! I was also thrown by the rather striking resemblance this book bore to Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”, which had been published a year prior. The stuff about privatized America, cooky religious sects, hacker communities, and corporate plotting, not to mention how the lead female is a messenger; these were all the same! I’m a sucker for all that stuff, but perhaps that added to the whole “unconvinced” thing. I’d seen it done before, and frankly… better. Sorry William! This round goes to Stephenson.

Incidentally, I’m kind of sad that the Kowloon Walled City no longer exists. Rather than demolishing the place, I think the Hong Kong authorities ought to have preserved it as a museum. It was a living piece of history, after all! And let’s not forget that the place was the result of neglect by many generations of civil authorities, so razing it wasn’t exactly a smart (or particularly sensitive) solution! Look it up, the photo galleries are immense and very cool to look at. Here’s a few links I happened to find:

Kowloon Walled City, Cross-Section
“Kowloon Walled City: The Modern Pirate Utopia”, Coilhouse Magazine
Kowloon Walled City Park: Official Webpage