…little girl falls through a hole and lands on a gigantic hand…





I hate elevator pitches, I don’t care how easy they are to sell, but lo how the mighty have fallen–
I read both books in Neuvel’s Themis Files series back to back in two days and the premise is somewhere between Harry Bates’ short story “Farewell to the Master” (better known as the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still) and H.G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds, with a pinch of Star Wars thrown in for flavoring.

Earth, present day, little girl falls through a hole and lands on a gigantic hand not made of this earth. Years later as a scientist she is put in charge of finding the rest of the pieces of the big robot, putting it together and figuring out how to make it run. Ten years later another robot appears to vaporize half of London, and the year after that more appear in the most populated cities on Earth and start killing people 99.95 percent of the population at a time. What do they want? How to stop them? A lot of people die before they figure anything out, some of whom you will greatly mourn.

The books are epistolary, sort of, told in transcripts of recorded conversations, emails and personal journals. The style can get a little tedious but there are some voices that will really make you perk up, like badass helo pilot Kara Resnik, crazy ass geneticist Alyssa Papantoniou, and (ultimately) kick ass linguist Vincent Couture. Neuvel has taken the lesson of Saturday serials to heart because both books end on excellent cliff hangers. Fun read.


And, spoiler alert***



1. Just one time I wanted to hear Vincent holler “Gort! Klaatu barada nikto!” Never know, mighta worked.


2. For those of you who have not read the short story, they dumbed down the ending in the movie (and for heaven’s sake, watch the Michael Rennie/Patricia Neal original, not the ghastly Keanu Reeves remake, gah). In Bates’ story as originally written? The robots were the boss, not man. It made for a helluva punchline. Pretty sure Neuvel is familiar with both, and that these books are his sort of sequel to the story. I mean, come on, look at the titles.

Star Wars vs. Avatar

[from the stabenow.com vaults, July 10, 2011]

Big conversation yesterday at knitting about Star Wars vs. Avatar. (Talking about the first Star Wars film, here.)

My main objection to Avatar is that there isn’t one quotable line in the whole shebang.

In a film speculated to have cost anywhere from $230 million (The New Yorker) to nearly $500 million (The New York Times), it seems like spending a couple of million on a decent writer wouldn’t have been a bad idea. Avatar is beautiful to look at, the new film tech is spectacular, it is unquestionably a game changer, definitely a, um, Star Wars moment in film history, but there is isn’t a single line in it to compare with

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.


Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?

or, hell, even

May the Force be with you.

Don’t get me wrong, I will forever revere James Cameron for Aliens

and Terminator 2

the sources of many great lines, like

They can bill me.


Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day.

but there is nothing remotely approaching this caliber of dialogue in Avatar. Although at knitting yesterday Marian did remind me there was one memorable word.


Obvious, much?

Someone is building a full-scale Millenium Falcon.

Go here to look at the rest of the photos of the construction in progress. There are lots.

I just wanna know if it’ll fly.

And if you like that, you’ll totally love this: