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December 10, 2011 / milesandhisfavorites

MAHF Magazine: Issue 9

FOCUS OMEGA IS UNDERWAY!

TERRA NOVA DYNAMICS, OR REALLY OVERDOING IT

MASS BOOK REVIEW!

Okay, aside from killer dinosaurs and government officials, the number one thing the Time Institute fears is somebody else building a time portal and using it for their own diabolical schemes.  That fear already came true with the Sigma Institute, but it can’t possibly happen again-right?  Well, guess what?  It did happen again, in a story arc that I’m calling Focus Omega.  The plot is this: a crime scene with traces of prehistoric proto-grass leads to a question-does somebody else have a time portal?  As it turns out, somebody else does.  There’s only one little problem-our perpetrator is fourteen years old, and he’s going to be harder to stop than you’d think.  But can I tell you more?  No, partially for fun’s sake, partially because this is going to be a post-Dreadnought arc.

You know what I’m really hooked on this year?  Terra Nova, that innovative new Fox show.  I did a review of it in an earlier issue, and now I have a major question: what are the occupation dynamics in the colony?  I know that the colony’s population is just over 1,000, but what percentage of that is security, what percentage are farmers, etc.  So, I’m going to do a little thought experiment here.  Let’s have a look at a shot of Terra Nova.  This photo isn’t mine, it’s from one of the two Terra Nova Wikis.  Kudos to them for having it.

Terra Nova

Wow.  Let’s examine each major part.  First, there’s the colony itself.  It’s shaped like a giant ring, situated in a nice valley, surrounded by forest and some plains (Gripe #1: There was no grass 85 million years ago.).  There’s a market, a big wind farm, and in the center of the ring, a huge agricultural field.  That automatically tells us something: there are a substantial amount of farmers in Terra Nova.  This point is revealed in several pieces of promotional material.  So, if there are a thousand (rounded) people in Terra Nova, there would have to be at least a couple hundred farmers.  We’re down to eight hundred.  Next priority: soldiers and security.  At regular intervals throughout the colony fence, there are sonic weapon turrets, each manned by, at estimate, two men.  We of course have people guarding workers outside the gates, and guards for the brig, which is the Terra Nova version of a small-town jail.  By my estimate, there could be 100 to 150 security people manning turrets and assisting work crews.  The final major population block would be minors.  We know for a fact that Terra Nova has an actual school, which tells us that there are enough kids and young teens (older kids often already work in Terra Nova, or have apprenticeships) to constitute something other than a correspondence-like program.  So, seventy-five to a hundred kids.  That leaves us with, and this is only an estimation:

  • Two hundred farmers.
  • One hundred fifty soldiers.
  • One hundred children
  • Fifty to seventy-five nurses and doctors
  • All the other people would most likely fill roles like fishermen, market salesmen, mechanics, bar workers, and scientists

For our final article, let’s get some more bullet points!  This time, I’m going to be doing a mass book review, which is basically reviewing all the books I’ve read by one author.  Let’s give it up for New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfield!

  • Peeps.  This book is about the life of a boy named Cal, who just happens to be a vampire.  Well, sort of.  Long story short, he has a disease that gives him cravings for meat, along with weird, lizard-like eyes.  He works for an underground organization that stops peeps, infected creatures that are like Cal on steroids.  He teams up with a girl named Lace to stop what may be a bigger, more devastating disease.  All in all, this book was pretty good, if hard to understand sometimes.  It’s definitely not a kids book, but it’s an interesting book for young adults.  Not for the faint of heart, given that there are interluding chapters where we get to learn about the fun world of parasites!
  • Uglies.  This is book one of the bestselling series, and it happens to be the only one of the four that I’ve read entirely.  Taking place in a distant future where everybody undergoes plastic surgery at age sixteen that makes them a Pretty, it follows the epic quest of Tally Youngblood, who is recruited by the government to find a refugee village called The Smoke.  Basically, it’s like The Twilight Zone episodes “Eye of the Beholder” and “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You”.  I liked it, but the next book, Pretties, was a little hard to follow.
  • Leviathan.  Oh, yeah.  Leviathan is a bestselling novel of alternate history, which takes place in 1914.  Europe is about to launch World War II, but things are a little different.  The world is split into two factions: the Clankers, who use iron war machines in their battles, while the Darwinists (Woo-hoo!) use genetically created creatures called beasties to fight their wars.  It follows the adventures of Alek, an Austro-Hungarian prince on the run from his own people, and Deryn/Dylan Sharp, a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Navy.  The two meet in the Swiss Alps, after Deryn’s whale airship, the Leviathan, crashes.  I’m going to have to give this book four stars, even though out of the trilogy, it’s my least (if not second) favorite.  Why?  It’s kind of, well, bland.  Not bland in a bad way, just bland in the way that Up was bland.
  • Behemoth.  Yay, it’s the sequel to Leviathan!  This one follows Alek and Deryn as they venture to the Clanker city of Constantinople (Whew!), and the mysterious eggs that were brought aboard the Leviathan in the first book hatch into… what?  Something pretty neat and extremely funny!  Along with mystery beasties, we get to see giant mechanical elephant battles, the Orient Express, and Clanker propaganda.  While it’s a fun-filled ride, I just don’t think that it can stand up to Leviathan and the last book in the trilogy.  Still, I liked it as much as any Leviathan book.
  • Goliath.  It is awesome.  Calling it great is like calling the Mariana Trench deep.  It just doesn’t do it justice.  Here’s the plot: Alek and Deryn (whose secret is finally discovered) wind up transporting a mad scientist named-guess who?-Nikola Tesla to his lab in New York City.  Yeah, that’s right!  Along with the good ol’ US of A, we get to visit Siberia, a small Chinese port under siege, Tokyo, and Mexico.  Each place has its own unique story or characteristics.  For example, in Russia, we get to see the mother of all fighting beasties, the Russian bears-literally.  In the port of Tsingtao, we find intense scenes of battle with zeppelin dogfights and vicious Japanese beasties tearing soldiers apart.  Tokyo is neat, because of the exquisite blend between Clanker and Darwinist styles.  In Mexico, we find our heroes caught in the middle of a rebel encampment led by General “Pancho” Villa.  And in America, we see everything from rocket attacks to roving reporters to the golden age of film.  We get to see the whole world from this one book, and that’s what makes it one of the best books I ever read.

Well, that’s all for now.  Stay tuned for our tenth issue!

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