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Six Bold Predictions for Game of Thrones Season Six

By | Everything

If you aren’t caught up on HBO’s Game of Thrones yet, then I really don’t have much to say to you. Other than 1) go watch it, and 2) come back after to read this post. If you are caught up, then read on, because with just over two months to go, the time is right for some bold predictions.

1. Jon Is Resurrected by Melisandre

Carice van Houten as Melisandre – photo Helen Sloan/HBO

Carice van Houten as Melisandre – photo Helen Sloan/HBO

The red witch’s arrival at Castle Black was no mere coincidence. She shows up at the gate a defeated and broken woman, questioning her faith in the Lord of Light. Very shortly after her arrival, Jon Snow is stabbed and left for dead. Jon is a man with royal blood (more on that below below), and she is drawn to that like a moth to a flame.

With or without royal blood, one thing we know about priests and priestess of the Lord of Light is that they can resurrect people—even if their own faith is broken. Recall Season 3 when Thoros of Myr tells Arya  how he has resurrected Beric Dondarrion multiple times. Melisandre looked down on Thoros, thinking him less of a worthwhile servant of the light, and wondered how he came to behold such power from their religion. Now it’s her turn. A broken woman with shaken faith comes in to save Jon Snow.

2. Jon Snow is Royalty

This is more of a long-term prediction, as we might not get around to this reveal until later in the series. But, with Jon now resurrected and free of this bond to the Night’s Watch (“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death.”), his plotline opens up to the whole of Westeros. At some point his mother will be reveled, and my belief is that he’s the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Eddard’s sister Lyanna Stark. I’m not the only one to think this one may be possible.

3. Daenerys Wins Over the Dothraki

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen – photo Macall B. Polay/HBO

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen – photo Macall B. Polay/HBO

Let’s not speak about the unspeakable things that will probably happen to Dany as the Dothraki khalasar takes her captive. One thing that GoT is exceptionally good at is unspeakable crimes against humanity—especially against women. Yet here we are, in Season 6, hoping beyond hope that our favorite queen does not get harmed.

Regardless of what happens to her, the arc of her storyline seems to be about her conquering Essos piece by piece, in her quest to get back to Westeros.  After her capture, she’ll eventually win over this particular horde, uniting them and the cities of Slaver’s Bay under one rule: hers. A united Essos, plus a queen with dragons and designs on the iron throne means big battles in the next season.

4. Cersei Goes Berserk

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister – photo Helen Sloan/HBO

Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister – photo Helen Sloan/HBO

And the start of Season 5 she was just an evil, power-hungry, scheming drunkard, by the end of it she was a broken woman with a glint in her eye that can only mean one thing: revenge. After her imprisonment and humiliation (shame… ding ding) Cersei’s world gets a lot smaller. Her uncle shows only contempt for her, her former sycophantic follower, Pycelle, returns the cold hatred she always showed him, and her son the king did nothing to save her. She still has to endure a trial at the hands of the High Sparrow, and to top it all off, Jamie returns with a dead Myrcella from what was supposed to be a rescue mission.

Her world, which previously revolved around power games and her children, has been stripped bare. There’s nothing left of her. She’ll go beyond simple cold-blooded revenge and sink deep into madness. A madness that will be executed by her new champion, the reincarnated Gregor Clegane and his creator, Qyburn. Look for Cersei to take it to a new level of insanity this season.

5. A Main Character Dies

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Conleth Hill as Varys – photo Macall B. Polay/HBO

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister and Conleth Hill as Varys – photo Macall B. Polay/HBO

Bold! I’m only half-joking. Of course lots of main characters get offed throughout the seasons, and usually in the most shocking ways possible. It’s not really a matter of someone dying, it’s a matter of whom and how many. My lovely wife—who makes a great Daenerys—has made the bold prediction that none other than, Daenerys herself gets killed this season. That’s bold.

I’m of the belief that Varis meets his maker. Someone has to die in the Essos storyline, and I like Tyrion too much and can’t bring myself to predict his demise—which actually makes him far more likely a candidate. That leaves Missandei, Grey Worm, and Varis. We’re starting to like Varis, which means he’s as good as dead this season. Maybe Tyrion and Varis both get killed. Maybe they kill each other!

6. Littlefinger Gets Hunted

We’ve watched the full series through twice, and it’s amazing to see the intrigue and subterfuge that Petyr Baelish weaves throughout the whole story. He is the architect of nearly all the conflict. Without his doing, Jon Arryn would not have died, Eddard Stark would have stayed in Winterfell, and the War of the Five Kings would have never taken place. And that’s just the start of his scheming. We might already hate him for marrying Sansa Stark off to Ramsay Bolton, but my prediction is that he gets found out in the show as the schemer that he is, and hunted down.

Bonus Prediction: Legolas Tracks Down Daenerys

“Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall.”

When Dany dropped her ring at the end of Season 6, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Sure, it worked for Pippin and Merry, but it took an elf to spot the leaf. I don’t see any elves around, so the only logical conclusion is that Legolas, Prince of the Woodland Realm, arrives on the scene to find the dropped ring, and join the search. And if Legolas is there, that must mean that Essos is the actually the Undying Lands! Look for Elrond on the Small Council in Season 7. You heard it here first.

A Brief Critique of The Force Awakens

By | Everything

Taking a break from the Startup Series reposts to put down my thoughts on Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. And yes, major #SpoilerAlert ahead, but if you haven’t seen TFA yet, I have no sympathy for you. Heck, if you haven’t seen it twice by now, I’m questioning your place in my life.

First, the good. I absolutely loved it. It was part fan tribute, part sci-fi action flick, part story continuation, and part stage-setting for new stories in our favorite galaxy. One of the best moments of the whole film is when you see the Millennium Falcon for the first time. Absolutely awesome. And though the entire final sequence of the movie is basically a rehash of RotJ, I didn’t care.

star-wars-episode-vii-lightsaber.png

One of the best surprises was that Rey was the awakening. The trailers led me (and many others) to believe that Finn was the new Jedi. They show him holding a lightsaber, and who holds lightsabers? Jedi, that’s who. Ergo: Finn = Jedi. When it turned out that Rey was the force-sensitive, and rapidly learned how to tap into her powers, I was stoked. I absolutely loved that. Good job on the trailer red herring.

However, there were moments that took me out of movie-adoration mode. It’s no fun to be pulled out of suspension of disbelief, especially because I’ve been anxiously anticipating it, and secretly praying every night for a great movie since it was announced on October 30, 2012. Thankfully, the instances of being pulled from excitement and awe in Episode VII were far less than any 20 minute segment of any of the prequels, but there were still a few moments that left me shaking my head.

Starkiller Base on The Force Awakens movie poster

Another Death Star

Really? Another Death Star? Come on. When they revealed Starkiller Base, my first reaction was the mental equivalent of an eyeroll.  Seven movies and three Death Stars? That’s a bit much. And I must admit that I saw it coming because it is in the movie poster. Even with that, I didn’t think they’d ever possibly revisit the idea of a Death Star a third time. But they did. This plot device (pun intended) needs to be put to rest, once and for all.

star-wars-the-force-awakens-captain-phasma-gwendoline-christie

Captain Phasma Caves

While the whole scene with Phasma, Finn, Han, and Chewie was funny—from capture to the trash compactor—the fact that she caved and turned off the deflector shields was just too much bullshit for me. This is the Chrometropper who is so unquestioningly loyal that when a Stormtrooper does not participate in mass-murder of unarmed civilians, she censures them and sends them to reconditioning. And you mean to tell me she begrudgingly gives in just because she has a blaster pointed to her head? I’m not buying it. Not to mention the minor details that she a) knows how to turn off the deflector shield of an entire planet, b) has the authority to do so, and c) happens to be in the right place for it. <sigh>

"all out" assault on Starkiller base

 

The All-Out Assault

Picture this: the Resistance is backed up against a wall. Their senate—and the moon system surrounding it—was destroyed by a “hyper-lightspeed” weapon of unbelievable firepower. And that weapon is turning its attention to their primary command base. Their only chance to survive: a zany scheme that took about five seconds to concoct (though, admittedly, they’ve already pulled off this plan twice before, which must certainly add a degree of confidence). But it is their own chance to survive; the one and only way to save the entire Resistance armed forces! What do you do? Meh, send about a dozen X-Wings, into enemy territory, to attack a planet-sized based. That should be plenty.  You mean to tell me that with absolutely everything on the line, you can’t muster more than a couple of single-seaters? Even the Rebellion did better in RotJ.

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Even with those missteps, I still loved it. My wife and I are heading for our third viewing this Saturday.

Oh, and, Kylo Ren as Han & Leia’s son? I totally called it. #humblebrag But to keep myself honest, I also speculated that Rey was their daughter, and though that is as-of-yet unproven, I’m saying “no” on that one.

Sci-fi Book Review, Part 2: Stand-Alone Books

By | Everything

Ready Player One cover

This list ends up being a lot shorter than my series review, because, as it turns out, most successful sci-fi books end up becoming just the first in an all-too-often too long series. But what happens when everything that needs to be accomplished can be accomplished in just one book? These four books answer that question. And answer it with vigor.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Where to begin? Do you like video games?
If you answered no, please stop reading and start gaming.

For those of you who have chosen… wisely, you should read RP1, RIGHT THE F— NOW. This is, hands-down, the greatest sci-fi book ever written. It takes place in a near-term dystopian society where a multi-billionaire gives away his fortune to the first person to solve a series of puzzles. Not just any puzzle, but multi-stage puzzles the answers to which require an incredible knowledge of video games and pop culture.

The good news is, as a casual reader, you don’t have to possess said knowledge, you just have to sit back and enjoy as the main character solves these challenges, takes on an evil corporation, and grows, both an avatar and as a human being, in the process.

I’m an RP1 pusher, yet every single person I’ve pushed this book on has thanked me for it.

You’re welcome.

House of Suns, by Alastair Reynolds

House of Suns is the quintessential deep space sci-fi novel. Imagine following a journey of hundreds of thousands of years, spanning the entire galaxy, encountering dozens of civilizations, and yet all the while being immersed in an intensely character-driven story. Alastair Reynolds is the king of space opera, and House of Suns is his masterwork.

If you want your mind expanded by the vastness of the galaxy, and then completely blown out by the intricacies of character interaction, all while traversing spacetime like it ain’t no thang, then pick up House of Sun. Immediately.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I consider Ender’s Game to be the single greatest leadership book ever written. Yet it’s sci-fi. And about children. WTF?

Let’s step away from the Harvard Business School aspects of this book for a moment, and just evaluate it along a pure sci-fi angle: it’s still damn good. This is a book about a space-faring humankind encountering a deadly enemy across all fronts of its planetary colonies. It’s about how our galactic government plans to deal with it.

How? By creating the perfect leader. It just so happens that the perfect leader is, intentionally, a child. That child is Ender, and if I could have even one tenth the people-skills, instincts, and leadership ability he does, then I’d be the next POTUS.

Any time I want to enjoy both a business book and a sci-fi novel, I fire up Ender’s Game.

The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson

Candy. Pure candy compared to the others here–but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. RP1 satisfies my inner gaming geek; House of Suns, the dreamer in me; and Ender’s Game the leader I want to be. What does that leave? It leaves room for a pure sci-fi book for the sake of sci-fi, and Neil Stephenson nails it.

If you’ve read and enjoyed any William Gibson novels (which is a redundant statement) then you must pick up The Diamond Age. This book not only explores the possibilities of how technology in the hands of the right person can affect the lives of millions (or billions) of people, but it’s a story of hope and serendipity in a semi-distopian future. And, as far as stand-alone sci-fi books go, it’s a must-read.

 

Palm Favs Gallery

By | Everything
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Top 5 beers

By | Everything

I often catch myself saying, “that’s one of my top five, all-time favorite beers.” Note the “often” at the beginning of that sentence. How many top-five beers can one beer lover have?

Apparently, seven.

I sat down tonight to make a comprehensive list of my top five favorite beers, and came up with seven. These are the beers that I could drink forever without getting sick of them. As much as I wanted to make it a Top Five list, I just couldn’t narrow it down any further.

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Sci-fi Book Review, Part 1: Series

By | Everything

FoundationAt my friends’ requests I put together a comprehensive review of all the sci-fi books I’ve read. It’s probably more accurate to say “read” because I pretty much only listen to audiobooks.

Audible is a magical thing. Every month I get two books from my subscription, and have been doing this for years. I started out doing just sci-fi, and so I managed to accumulate quite a library. In the last few years, I’ve switched to reading one business book and one sci-fi book each month. The business books are usually less than 10 hours, so I usually read one of them twice in the same month. Sci-fi tends to be quite a bit longer, but I’ve still “read” quite a few.

But I digress, here’s my list of all the sci-fi series I’ve read. I’ll post the stand-alone books later. (The scale is from 1-10 with 10 being the best.)

 

  • Anderson – Saga of Seven Suns (5) – Great example of a series that would have been better as three or four books. This is actually the truest “space opera” that I’ve read; it’s just too damn long.
  • Asimov – Empire Series (6) – So many books in the Foundation Universe that I had to split into three groups. The Empire Series was written first, but comes in the middle, chronologically. Overall, good, short reads, but not the best.
  • Asimov – Foundation Series (7) – The quintessential Assimov series. Even in this group, there’s such a wide variety of topics. Overall, I enjoyed the series and recommend it.
  • Asimov – Robot Series (7) – Essentially these are detective novels, but taking place in a well-imagined far future. I enjoyed all of the books in this series and would recommend starting here and working your way through chronologically.
  • Butcher – Furies of Calderon (5) – After book 1, all the rest have the exact same plot structure. How did I make it to book 6? Grinding rep in WoW, that’s how.
  • Card – Ender’s Game (9) – I’m considering Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow as a series. The former being my favorite book on the psychology of management, and is one of the best sci-fi books of all time.
  • Card – Speaker for the Dead (4) – Separating these from the above, Ender is grown up and is a fucking bore. (Someone described this series as the best book on humanism. Meh. I’m not a humanist, I’m a sci-fi nerd)
  • Card – Pathfinder (6) – Fantasy, somewhat interesting, characters are good. Not as strong as Ender’s, but not as boring as Speaker. We’ll see how it develops.
  • Campbell – The Lost Fleet (6) – bubble gum sci fi: it’s tasty (for a bit) & entertaining (for a while), but lacking substance. One redeeming value: the space combat is incredible because the author is a retired Navy ship commander. Worth reading one or two for the warfare tactics & strategy.
  • Gibson – Sprawl Trilogy (8) – Geeky sci-fi that really pushes the boundaries of tech implications. Loved the series.
  • Hamilton – Commonwealth Saga (6) – It drags in a few places otherwise it would be a 7, but it’s good combo of far-future thinking and excellent character development.
  • Morgan – Takeshi Kovacs Series (8) – hard-hitting sci-fi with lots of action. Really great series. Wouldn’t be surprised if these end up as movies.
  • Pullman – His Dark Materials (6) – This is the series that starts with The Golden Compass, and starts rock solid, but quickly deteriorates into the author’s personal war on religion.
  • Reynolds – Revelation Space (7) – Really interesting far future space opera, each book is very different, as such I loved one, hated another, meh on a third.
  • Scalzi – Old Man’s War (6) – Somewhat fun, mostly just war stories. The first book is a great read, the others are just OK.
  • Simmons – Hyperion (8) – Far future sci-fi with tons of thinking about implications of our tech at logical extremes. Only reason it’s not higher is the last book gets a bit preachy.
  • Suarez – Daemon (10) – If you play video games, you must read this. Only two books in the series, but absolutely required reading for my fellow gaming geeks out there.

Next up, my favorite stand-alone sci-fi books. Followed by some business book reviews.