Review: Celeste by I.N.J. Culbard

On a lark (mostly because there was an astronaut on the cover) I borrowed the graphic novel “Celeste” by I.N.J. Culbard from the library. The premise is really clever – it follows three people who suddenly discover they’re the only people left on the planet. There’s a particularly lovely Powers-Of-Ten opening that starts at the edge of the universe and slowly zooms into earth.

The setup and the settings and characters are all really interesting, but the third act of the storyline (in all three character’s storylines) just went totally over my head. I have the feeling that for the artist the ending is full of meaning, but I found it really difficult to make any sense of the abstract narrative that unfolds. I felt like maybe I could hit up the internet for some answers, but discovered that I’m not the only person who found it confounding.

I wasn’t in love with the art (it was well executed, but the style didn’t appeal to me), and you could make some valid criticism that the nudity felt a bit gratuitous, but I’d still recommend it for the experience of reading a storyline that doesn’t go anywhere you think it will. It felt a bit like an unsatisfying dream, and that was weird to get from a book.


Collectivity Project – New York

While we were walking the High Line in New York, Natasha and I stumbled onto an awesome public art project – the “Collectivity Project” by Olafur Elisasson. They basically dumped 2 tonnes of white lego bricks in a heap with the instructions: help build a lego city! It was awesome seeing the collective creativity of hundreds (or even thousands?) of people’s work accumulating over time. Also really fun to see how flexible legos are under duress – some very strange structures built through the process of disassembly and reassembly.



Natasha and I built a building with a heart and a 10 on top, to celebrate our tenth anniversary. :)


Putting the lunar back in lunarbovine

I had the telescope out last night to take a couple of shots of our nearly full moon. I’m slowly getting better – there’s a bunch of factors that make astrophotography really challenging. One, you have to wait for perfect weather. Two, even the tiniest vibration in your setup (wind, footsteps, camera shutter) will cause blur in your picture. Three, the moon is moving! Fast! When you’re looking at a tiny slice of the sky you really get a sense of how everything is whirling around through space. The moon is pretty bright so it’s not a huge factor, but without a star-tracker robot to keep locked on celestial bodies, you need to keep shutter speeds pretty fast to prevent motion blur. (but you want long shutter speeds to collect a lot of light, soooo)

Anyhow – I’m failing better and better. :) Here’s a shot from last night. Lots of dust on my sensor and inside the telescope – I’ll have to blow it clean soon with some compressed air.


Review: The Martian

I managed to get my hands on a copy of The Martian before the movie adaptation starring Matt Damon hit the theatres. :) The trailer for that film is full of spoilers, by the way – so best be avoiding it if you’re interested in the book or the film.


In the book, astronaut Mark Watney is accidentally left behind on Mars when a sandstorm threatens to overwhelm the crew of the Ares 3 Mars mission – the book follows his struggles to stay alive in an unrelenting environment while he tries to figure out a way back to earth.

Set in the near-ish future, the book is a gold-mine of details for anyone who hopes to someday spend some quality time on the red planet. Although much of the technology is made up, it feels plausible – certainly the author Andy Weir has been doing his homework.

There’s a few stretches where the details get in the way of the plot (there’s some tediously long math bits) but there’s enough constantly going wrong in Mark Watney’s life that the pace stays pretty brisk throughout the book.

This is a book that celebrates intelligence, resourcefulness, and preparedness. Definitely a recommended read if you’re into hard sci-fi.