The Expanse: Leviathan Wakes review: What the Star Trek prequel should be like

I am a huge Star Trek fan but when I was introduced to the Expanse by my high school buddy I was hooked by the first few chapters. It was like the Star Trek prequel that I have been looking for. Because instead of dazzling you with new technologies, the authors imagined a world of technologies not that far extrapolated from our current understanding and capabilities.

And despite the inevitable conflicts, the stories were filled with interesting intriguing plots and twists. Having a detective as one of the main character definitely brings back the memories of Columbo and other great detective stories in the 80’s and the more exploratory aspects of the Star Trek universe.

It is a world with people trying to make things happen with what they have.

The story setting can be thought of as the world we know now reimagined in space: with Mars and Earth as the duo superpowers and the rest of the solar system like developing worlds but at the sci-fi level. And the story starts at the zone between the Inner Planets and Outer Planets, known as the Belt (the asteroid belt in our current nomenclature). It beautifully stitches a lot of the current exploratory effort by space agencies around the world.

One interesting aspect of the story was how two people of different background and profession were learning each others ways: a detective and a ship captain all the while trying to save the solar system. The authors cleverly switch perspective between the two every chapter. Such different perspective on the same world seem to pervade the solar system on a larger scale causing conflicts to occur.

The other interesting aspect of the book that is worth noting, is the politicizing of science and information, a theme that is timely for the current age of the internet. Science and technology have come a long way from just intrigues to having serious impact on the world. While this ideas has been around and scientist and engineers are often taught ethics, their results being used in power struggles and how the power of the information dissemination by technologies such as the internet brings this issue to a much higher level.

This book albeit being labeled as hard core sci-fi, is a joyful yet thoughtful read.

Value of Journey to the West as world literature

The Value of Journey to the West as world literature.

Although Journey to the West is the first science fiction story written in China during the Ming dynasty circa 1700AD, its value to the world is only beginning to resurface. The recent shift in focus from the obsession with The Three Kingdom warriors to now the JTW story in Chinese marks an important progress and the new direction of cultural development in Asia and around the world.

The story is a retelling of an event during the Tang dynasty 1000 years prior circa 700AD (which was the Golden Era of China). Most people only see the clashes in the story but unlike the Three Kingdom (which is a lot of strategizing, land grabbing, back stabbing), JTW is a decidedly different kind of novel.

Here the Monkey King is introduced as the ultimate fearsome warrior. And Its a story how the overly conniving and incessant fighting in old China is tamed by Buddhism.

However, just as important also how a “manly” figure such as the Monkey King etch out his own persona in a world where emotions and riches abound finding his own balance of IQ and EQ.

This is not unlike the world we are seeing now. And I think this rare treasure of China is worth your while to watch. If you have never read it, it is unlike any story you have ever read. I guarantee tainan

Khan in history and scifi: Who is Khan anyway?

A bit of history:

Khan, Khan, Khan. So who is Khan? Everybody is afraid of him. But who is he? Historically, Khan is the title of the ruler of Mongolian tribes much like a Caesar is to the Romans or Czar to the Russians. Genghis Khan and Kublai Khan being the most famous . Like Attila the Hun, the Mongolians had a big run of empire expansion and briefly occupied China. It probably was one of the biggest historical humiliation for the Chinese (the others includes the late Qin Opium War and a bunch of unequal treaties where Hong Kong was given to England and Taiwan to Japan) . Later, the Han Chinese overturn the Mongolian rule setting stage for a more prosperous development.

In Star Trek, however, Khan is Khan Noonien Singh, a super human that (much like the mongolian Khans), ruled a huge empire on earth during the Eugenic War in 1990’s. He became an arch-rival to Federation Star Fleet Captain James T. Kirk culminating in Star Trek II:Wrath of Khan the movie when he escaped his exile planet. And then also in the recent remake Star Trek: Into the Darkness where he was pitted against Spock instead of Kirk.

Khan has been voted as the one of the top 10 villain in movies of all time….

Mongolia is now divided into Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China, and Outer Mongolia which is an independent country. It borders between Russian and China. And has been a territory of contest between the two superpowers. It is largely a mysterious land to most folks knowing only Mongolian BBQ or reading the kungfu novel of Jin Yong. It is a land of camels and herders, of harsh living.

Modern Mongolia is vastly different from its historical past. To get rid of the anger of Asia, this has to be one of focus. China has spent decades developing ways to raise the standard of living in Mongolia so that history does not repeat again.

#TengGeErMyHeaven #騰格爾 #天堂