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Media round-up
Bar Harbor
Battlestar Galactica
Got around to seeing this week's episode. I really liked the idea of showing a space battle entirely from the perspective of people listening to audio reports about it. Somewhat reminiscent of the "back at base" scenes in Star Wars during the trench battle, but a more thorough exploration of the concept.

There was a line at the end that had interesting implications: "We had to lose two Raiders to get this, but it was worth it." Why did they have to lose two Raiders? Did one of them drop off some sort of relay device while the other distracted the Vipers? They couldn't have actually relayed the broadcast directly, because the Cylons received the final cut (not created until after the attack), not just an interim version. Moreover, how did they know to *send* two Raiders? The implication is that at least some of the Cylons in the fleet have some sort of very-low-bandwidth communication channel in place normally, which they can use to call for this sort of help when needed. Of course, I may be putting more thought into these implications then the people making the show are. But I think that this *does* show pretty conclusively that the Cylons aren't trying to just destroy the fleet, since they clearly do know exactly where the fleet is.

"Catch That Zeppelin!", by Fritz Lieber
Read this in a volume of Hugo Winners. It won in 1976. I mention it because I'm kind of boggled that it won. Not that it's a *bad* story, but it's really a fairly typical Alternate History scenario. Maybe a bit more lyrical than most, but also with some decidely cheesy aspects, like having an alternae of Adolf Hitler be the viewpoint character. Were AH stories actually new and exciting back then? I suppose they must have been once, but I would have thought it was before 1976...

I picked up this year's installment of Years Best Fantasy (ed. Hartwell and Cramer). I don't normally, as I tend to enjoy SF much more than fantasy, but this installment had several stories by favorite authors of mine, which I would not get to read for some considerable time (if at all) otherwise.

"The Problem of Susan", by Neil Gaiman
I remember Neil referring to this on his blog as being (if looked at in a certain way) a Narnia Slash story, which sure sounded intriguing. That may be technically accurate, but it's not how I would descibe it. It definitely is in dialogue with the Narnia stories, and contains strong sexual elements. But it's *about* stories (what Neil story isn't?) and God. Disturbing.

"The Man From Shemhaza", by Steven Brust
This was originally from a Thieves World anthology. It was well written, and I liked parts of the middle (especially the story-within-the-story). But the ending reminded me why I eventually stopped reading Theives World. One of the unwritten laws of that universe (or heck, maybe it *is* written, for all I know) is that characters can be sympathetic or successful, but not both. Hence, endings can really only be either tragic or cynical. I can put up with either of those in moderation, but I can't say I *like* them, except in very rare cases. This wasn't one of them.
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It's pretty clear to me that the Cylons are manipulating the humans, and that simple upfront destruction isn't part of the plan. I just hope, when the plan becomes clear, it's worth the buildup…

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