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Friday, January 24, 2020

Comic Cuts - 24 January 2020

I've had a fairly solid week of work on the new Rocket index, trying to tease out the web of connections between a lot of the creators involved. I've made one or two interesting discoveries along the way, some of which will make it into the book, while some bits will have to wait for another opportunity.

Rebellion have released a information about their 2020 release schedule for the Treasury of British Comics (scroll down if you haven't seen it yet). I thought you might like to see the front and back covers of the Johnny Future book for which I've penned a short 'n' sweet introduction.

I almost had a heart attack on Wednesday (and, no, this is not a follow-up to my medical discussions of last week).

With the tablet bust, I had a lightbulb moment and wondered whether the USB stick I was using as an external harddrive to give the device enough space to do a Windows update might also be part of the problem. The tablet is just turning itself on and then immediately shutting down.

So I plugged the stick into my PC and something weird has happened. I can read the files on the stick, I can copy the files off the stick. What I can't do is delete anything from the stick. Why this is the case I have no idea. The good news is that it might mean that the tablet can be revived... I buy a new stick; I've copied the files relating to the Windows update onto another drive. I put them on the new stick, plug in the stick... and hopefully that will give Windows enough space to do the update.

But with the tablet out of action and the stick also seemingly screwed, the heart attack moment came when I plugged in my 5tb external hard drives to copy a couple of files off the PC – as usual I was running out of space – and only one of them fired up. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I tried the power cable from the working one in the not working one and, lo and behold, it fired up without any problems. Could the fault be the plug???

No... following the cable back to the wall, I noticed that I'd unplugged the extension cable so that I could charge my electric razor. D'oh. Once I plugged the extension cable back in everything worked fine. Heart attack averted.

But I spent the rest of the afternoon appalled at how easily I accepted the idea that these bad things come in threes. I don't consider myself superstitious and while I might jokingly reference bad luck and the old wives tale that misfortune comes in threes, I don't actually believe in it.

I did a little digging for data to back up my (dis-)belief, and it's caused by the human desire to see patterns in random or concurrent events. It's called apophenia. We look for a pattern and cherry pick the events that have happened recently to support the idea that bad things come in threes. Confirmation bias and the historic use of groups of three to differentiate good and bad options (e.g. three little pigs, three bears, etc.) leads us to believe that something is actually happening. Two things going wrong is, after all, just a coincidence... so for bad luck to be involved, there must be a third thing. Three also means that, once we've figured out what that third thing is, we're safe from any more things going wrong. At least for a while.

So... apophenia not angina. Phew!

A look at The Expanse with some spoilers, so jump to the end of the column if you don't like that kind of review.

It's good to have The Expanse back. I was a big fan of the first three seasons, and disappointed that SyFy dropped the show, especially when it was getting such rave reviews from the people who were watching it. I have to guess that, by the third season, all that was left watching were the hardcore fans and there simply weren't enough of them.

The show moved to Amazon Prime and I think there has been a certain tension leading up to the show's release as fans will know that the novels by James S. A. Corey are plotted in groups of three. The SyFy series covered the first three books (Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate) and Amazon were picking up with the next trilogy (Cibola Burn, Nemesis Games and Babylon's Ashes).

Now, the SyFy shows had come to a reasonable conclusion, as had the books. The protomolecule – an alien weapon that had infected Eros – has been destroyed and a vast number of rings have opened up, paving the way for human expansion across the galaxy. Quite a nice place to end. The worry was that Amazon would do one series, end on a cliffhanger and drop the show again.

Well, that looks unlikely. The fourth season, at a slightly trimmed-down ten episodes, has been very positively received and there will definitely be a fifth.

Does it deserve its 100% Rotton Tomatoes score? Well, I really enjoyed it. There has been a land rush through the gates and more and more people are trying to escape to new worlds leaving some worried that the Inner Planets will suffer... why terraform Mars when you can just fly to a planet with breathable air?

Problems on a planet named Ilus, aka New Terra, mean that James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are sent to investigate. They find a state of extreme tension exists between Belter settlers, who have discovered vast deposits of lithium, and the RCE, sent to study the planet. Tensions continue to boil when strange alien towers begin to activate. Hot spots and eruptions cause a tsunami and the warring newcomers are forced to hide together underground.

Meanwhile, Chrisjen Avasarala is struggling in the polls against Nancy Gao, who has emerged as a credible contender, especially after she makes a potentially disastrous decision while trying to track down a terrorist. And Bobbie, out of the Martian military and free of Avasarala, struggles to find meaningful work; circumstances dictate that she ends up working with a group stealing and smuggling tech. And out in the belt, Drummer and Ashford have captured Marco Inaros but a decision by various OPA factions is made to let him go leading to consequences greater than either could imagine.

I was a little worried that, with an expanding cast of major characters, some would be sidelined and given little to do, Bobbie certainly seemed like she was to be a victim of this, but the pace of her storyline picked up after a couple of episodes. Miller returned as the untrustworthy ghost in Holden's head and Amos and Naomi both had plenty of cause to regret going planetside. The mix of politics, personal stories and spectacular space opera that has been the strength of The Expanse so far hasn't been lost in the move to Amazon. It looks promising for the future... in fact, given the cliffhanger, the next season could be a blast.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve,
    I've had similar probs with undel files. You need to be confident with the dos prompt to be able to get rid. I can give you more details of you like.