Drawing of a silver person standing in the desert in front of a flying saucer.I really enjoyed the original run (Saucer Country) at Vertigo and the second run at IDW (Saucer State)…that ended on a cliffhanger, and I’m really looking forward to being able to read the conclusion!

The crowdfunding campaign launched today (perfect timing) and runs through December 8.

Saucer Country is a dark thriller that blends UFO lore and alien abduction with political intrigue, all set in the hauntingly beautiful Southwest.

The comics by Paul Cornell & Ryan Kelly follow a presidential campaign whose candidate believes she has been abducted by aliens, what that means to her and the country, and weaves through every aspect of UFO conspiracy mythology you can think of.

The first volume ran from 2012-2013, and the second volume picked up in 2017…and it was really weird to see how prescient the first run had been, as well as how the 2016 election season influenced the second part.

Let’s just say the kid was not impressed with Attack of the Clones.

To be honest, I think it’s the weakest of the prequels and of the six that George Lucas was actually involved in.

The Phantom Menace is better than I remember.

It’s well constructed, and there are incredible subtleties and thematic elements hidden among the flashy (and cheesy) A-plot. It’s about dualities, symbiosis, and most of all, misdirection. An elaborately costumed decoy queen, an invasion waged to maneuver the Senate into giving Palpatine more power, and so on. And the movie is that too: a big flashy effects and battle and comedy extravaganza in front of a master manipulator quietly going about his scheming.

I mean, yeah, the dialogue isn’t very good, and there are all the horrible stereotypes, but the core of the story is thematically solid.

Attack of the Clones…is not.

I could see what they were trying to do, but it doesn’t hold together as well, and the story hinges on a romance that is, frankly, unconvincing. It’s like an early draft of a script went into full-blown production, but no one could tell Lucas, hey, maybe you should try something different here, or keep working on the dialog there, etc.

The effects are amazing. The music — John Williams is still at the top of his game here, and “Across the Stars” is one of the best Star Wars pieces written (up there with “Duel of the Fates” IMHO). There are cool concepts and interesting characters, and good actors doing the best they can with what they have. (When they can.)

And there are great moments too! Dooku telling Obi-Wan the absolute truth about the Republic having fallen under the sway of a Sith Lord, just in a way that Obi-Wan can’t believe it. Or Padme quietly picking the lock on her handcuffs in the background while Anakin and Obi-Wan argue in the foreground.

Mainly I think it needed more script revisions. And to let someone else direct it.

Previously posted on Mastodon. Cross-posted as reviews of TPM and AotC.

We ended up not watching Star Trek: Discovery when it launched because we didn’t want to add another streaming service at the time. Same with Picard. Sometime during the last two years we ended up adding Paramount+ (or whatever it was called at the time) for some reason, and earlier this year we decided to start watching some of the newer shows.

Warning: If you plan on doing the same, stop reading Memory Alpha until you’re caught up! Katie and I each got spoiled for different twists in Discovery from headlines on things like the list of popular articles of the day.

We started with Discovery season one, then interleaved season two with the first season of Picard.

We grown-ups liked the first season of Discovery, liked, well, parts of the second season, and had mixed feelings about Picard.

J. really enjoyed watching Discovery but had no interest whatsoever in Picard once he’d seen the first episode. Fair enough — people like different things, and Picard is a different type of show, a bit less action, a bit more thoughtful at times, and it works best if you know the returning characters (and their relationships to Data) already. And while he’s seen a handful of Next Gen episodes, he’s never connected with it.

Interleaving Discovery S2 and Picard S2 was kind of weird when we saw them hitting a lot of the same beats with the plot.

sorta spoilery
Not just the overall powerful AI wants to wipe out all sentient life arcs, but sometimes specific beats. The weirdest was when we watched two episodes where a compromised character sacrificed themselves at the end of the episode to save their crewmates from the entity they’d been compromised by.
Also, the emphasis on “sentient” life in both, while I was reading the classic novel Little Fuzzy which uses the more accurate term “sapient” (as in Homo sapiens) to refer to thinking lifeforms.

We watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home last night. It holds up better than I thought it would. At the end, I found myself trying to imagine the conversation between the whales and the probe. Probably something like this:

— Hey! We’re still here! Or, we’re back, anyway!
— Oh, good! What happened to you? We’ve been trying to reach you for ages.
— Apparently the humans killed us all.
— Wait, they did WHAT?
— Well, some of them did. But some of them brought us forward through time to make up for it. They won’t kill us now.
— They’d BETTER NOT!
— I think we’re OK now.
— *sigh* OK, good to know. We’ll go report back. Keep in touch.
— Thanks!

And I also imagined their reactions at the end, as they frolic in the 23rd-century ocean:

Wow! We’re in the open sea! And we talked to aliens! And the humans have stopped hunting us! And they’ve stopped polluting the oceans! This is AWESOME!

Well, except for the whole thing with us being the only humpback whales on the planet. But it’s not like we were really able to talk to much of anyone from the aquarium to begin with.

Seriously, though, it’s encouraging to know that, decades after the ban on hunting went into effect, the humpback whale population has rebounded so successfully that most populations are no longer threatened by extinction. I found articles citing a worldwide population of “over 80,000” and “just under 100,000” in 2016 — an order of magnitude more than the less-than-10,000 that were left in the 1980s!