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The best of the rest of 2013

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2014-01-10


The best of the rest of 2013

My favorite trip down memory lane: Dinosaurs Attack!
Dinosaurs Attack! is all but forgotten today other than by a few middle-aged sci-fi fans like me who can remember where they were the first time they saw this trading card set. (I was at Keltsch in Georgetown where I discovered the cards on clearance for just 10 each and ended up buying every pack I could afford!)

An homage to Mars Attacks!, the Dinosaurs Attack! cards featured dinosaurs, ripped from their time and transported to our own by a mysterious force, rampaging across the planet in fully illustrated bloody gory detail. The original release of the card set didn't do well which meant that a comic book that was released at the same time was cancelled along with the cards. Luckily for us, though, IDW Publishing revived the Dinosaurs Attack! comic and republished the entire series along with issues that were shelved after cancellation.

I'd be lying if I said that the Dinosaurs Attack! comic isn't "so bad it's good," but I still adore this old/new series.

My favorite comic: The Star Wars
It's probably been at least 15 years since I bought a Star Wars comic book, and that's coming from a guy who used to buy everything Star Wars related I could get my hands on. But what got me collecting Star Wars comics again in 2013 was the new comic The Star Wars. This comic is an illustrated version of George Lucas' original Star Wars screenplay written years before the movie was filmed and is quite different to what ended up on screen. While the overall plot and character names are similar, there are quite a few differences between Star Wars and The Star Wars like Skywalker being a grizzled old Jedi general, Darth Vader being just another Darth of many and R2D2 speaking! It's an interesting "what if" look at sci fi history.

My favorite book: Chasing Venus
If archeology has its Indiana Jones to make that science "cool," then astronomy has its Chasing Venus to make that science cool too -- and everything in Chasing Venus actually happened.

Back in the 1700s scientists knew that Venus would cross in front of the Sun twice that century. And if measurements could be taken at several points on the Earth of this transit it would be possible to measure the distance from the Earth to the Sun. But since these measurements needed to be taken across the globe, it meant that scientists would have to spend years sailing to far off points on the map or trudging across frozen Russia to be in the exactly right place at exactly the right time to witness this event. These journeys were so difficult and harsh that one scientist who spent years sailing to a far off island to see the first transit decided to stay and wait for the next transit rather than going home. An event he'd have to wait eight years for!

My favorite app: Satellite Safari
I've been interested in astronomy my whole life and in the last decade have gotten accustomed to seeing a satellite or two traveling the night sky. But over the last few years with the launch of more and more satellites into orbit and seeing more and more of them nightly, I'd gotten interested in knowing the names of what I was seeing pass overhead. That's why the app Satellite Safari is so cool. It shows from the viewer's perspective on the ground what satellites are overhead right now or 10 minutes from now, or tomorrow, or next week, or next year. For an astronomy geek like me that's heaven.

My favorite collected comic: Weird War Tales
I used to collect all sorts of crazy comics as a kid. Sure, I bought Spider-Man, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman comics, but I also bought things like Battlestar Galactica, Strange Adventures and Weird War Tales comics too. That's why I'm so jazzed that DC put out a 576 (!!!) page collection of all the crazyness that was Weird War Tales. The series lasted 124 issues and this first volume covers just the first 21 issues of the comic. So, hopefully DC will be releasing more collected editions of Weird War Tales in years to come.

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