Category Archive 'Science Fiction'
09 Aug 2008
A candidate with his own presidential seal is prone to decide he also needs his own personal salute.
And, sure enough, US News & World Report recently found, Barack Obama’s gotten himself one of those, too.
But, maybe, just maybe, Obama needs to re-think these little personal touches. They provoke mockery, and worse, they prompt cynical people, like Gateway Pundit, to investigate possible sources of plagiarism.
14 Jul 2008
A reader tells Megan McArdle that she’s every nerd’s dream girl because she actually likes Science Fiction, which got the gender wars rolling, and provoked discussion of girls & SF. Poor Megan has had to respond defensively.
I guess some people just date the wrong girls. My wife, as we near Social Security age, is only beginning to recover from a really drastic life-time SF reading habit. 30 years ago, we used to store her SF books on top of a row of book cases, about 15’ long with 4 or 5’ of space above. The stacked up SF filled the space, creating a visually interesting and thought provoking assemblage which came to be regarded by a number of people as a satisfying example of found art. We often speculated on having the whole thing set in lucite. Particularly after one of the occasional book avalanches occurred.
I expect Karen would read more SF even now, if there was more SF and less weak and imitative fantasy out there.
Nobody in our household likes Doctor Who, I’m afraid.
11 May 2008
video ad for Wireless DVD Projector ($2900, ouch!) & Wireless Webcam with light saber IP phone (only $400) in the form of (miniature) R2-D2 droids.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
21 Mar 2008
International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
07 Feb 2008
Admiral William Adama
Annalee Newitz proposes a better model for leadership than mere business executives.
29 Sep 2007
An editorial from a 25th Century edition of National Review has mysteriously made its way to the desk of the editors of the current journal of opinion. It warns about the errors of “Pelosians” and “Picardians” in dealing with the Romulan threat.
The Romulans are arming Cardasia to the gills while we stand idly by watching the Bajorans get slaughtered. The Pelosians, always eager to protect tribbles wherever they happen to sprout up, turn a blind eye to the fate of actual sentient humanoids and allies. Based on the most dubious science, they are willing to place a speed limit on warp drive, but images of actual Bajorans stacked like cordwood move them not a nanometer. We have had our disagreements with Klingons and Ferengi, but we can look on with nothing but admiration as they fulfill their promises and contracts with the Bajorans while we spend our days here on Earth debating whether the entirely defunct Organian Peace Treaty applies to non-signatories of that irrelevant piece of parchment. It’s enough to make one declare “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no sign of intelligent life here.”
17 Sep 2007
James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was born in Charleston, South Carolina.
He served two tours in Vietnam 1968-1970, receiving multiple awards of both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star. After serving in the US Army, he attended the Military College of South Carolina (The Citadel) earning a degree in Physics.
Under the pen name Robert Jordan, he wrote an eleven volume fantasy series, incorporating a host of memorable characters, titled The Wheel of Time.
In this reader’s opinion, Robert Jordan was the most interesting and successful entrant into the genre of the numerous authors inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkein.
26 Jul 2007
Taylor Dinerman, in the Wall Street Journal, commemorates Heinlein’s centenary.
When one looks at the great technological revolutions that have shaped our lives over the past 50 years, more often than not one finds that the men and women behind them were avid consumers of what used to be considered no more than adolescent trash. As Arthur C. Clarke put it: “Almost every good scientist I know has read science fiction.” And the greatest writer who produced them was Robert Anson Heinlein, born in Butler, Mo., 100 years ago this month. ...
Robert A. Heinlein, who died in 1988, lived a life inspired by two great loves. One was America and its promise of freedom. As one of his characters put it: “Your country has a system free enough to let heroes work at their trade. It should last a long time—unless its looseness is destroyed from the inside.” And he loved and admired women—not just his wife, Virginia, who provided the model for the many strong-minded and highly competent females who populate his stories, but all of womankind. “Some people disparage the female form divine, sex is too good for them; they should have been oysters.”
In another hundred years, it will be interesting to see if the nuclear-powered spaceships and other technological marvels he predicted are with us. But nothing in his legacy will be more important than the spirit of liberty he championed and his belief that “this hairless embryo with the aching oversized brain case and the opposable thumb, this animal barely up from the apes will endure. Will endure and spread out to the stars and beyond, carrying with him his honesty and his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage and his noble essential decency.”
01 Jul 2007
Brian Doherty, in the LA times, pays tribute on the occasion of Robert A. Heinlein’s upcoming 100th birthday.
The science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein was born in Missouri, and his fiction was mostly set in the future and on distant planets. But there’s no question that Heinlein — born 100 years ago this week — was one of Southern California’s great prophets.
He lived in Los Angeles in the 1930s and ‘40s, and first turned to writing because of looming mortgage payments after his failed campaign in 1938 to represent Hollywood in the Assembly. Though he would later become a great inspiration to libertarians, Heinlein was then an active member of novelist Upton Sinclair’s popular quasi-socialist “End Poverty in California” movement.
From the beginning of his career as a writer in 1939 (when he published his first story, “Life-Line,” in Astounding Science-Fiction magazine), Heinlein was one of the field’s masters. Before that, science fiction had been mostly either a heavy-handed and didactic genre or one concerned with unsophisticated fantastic adventure tales. Heinlein added sophistication and realism, creating a future world that seemed everyday and lived-in, not impossibly distant. He treated rockets and space travel as matter-of-fact details of human life — as Heinlein believed they would and must become.
From 1939 until his death in 1988, Heinlein was science fiction’s acknowledged leader, with 33 popular novels, most of them in print decades later
Heinlein’s novels were also powerful precursors of Southern California politics and culture, especially as they unfolded in the change-filled 1960s. ...
California, and specifically Southern California, was key to Barry Goldwater’s surprising 1964 GOP nomination victory. Goldwater’s rough-hewn combination of a crusty, antigovernment attitude and extreme bellicosity against communism — which he saw as an unacceptable threat to American individualism — resonated deeply in Southern California at the time.
But the Goldwater surge was preceded by a mini-movement Heinlein tried to create in 1958 with the “Patrick Henry League,” dedicated to the notion that the truest expression of U.S. liberty was preparing for a fight to the finish with international communism.
Heinlein laid some of these concepts out in his 1959 “Starship Troopers,” offering up the idea that American liberty and a relentless fight against the Soviets were inextricably linked — a science fiction version of Goldwater’s subsequent message. It presented a world of low taxes and few laws in which only veterans of public service could vote (not only military veterans, contrary to some Heinlein detractors who saw something fascist in the novel) and where brave young men gave the last full measure of devotion to defeat an insectoid alien menace that was a clear metaphor for communism. ...
Although science fiction’s visions and handling of character have become more complex and sophisticated in many ways since Heinlein’s day, his wide-ranging speculations about human futures created a still-valuable mix of ideas and entertainment. In his peculiar and unprecedented combination of rocket visions, a tough-minded individualism respectful of the military and iconoclastic free living, Heinlein is truly the bard of Southern California.
17 Jun 2007
Amazing Stories cover—May 1926
The Cornell University Library has built an interesting web-site based on its own collection titled: The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. Sample images above and below. Well worth a visit.
Diable, woodblock, J.A.S. Collin de Plancy, Dictionnaire Infernal, Paris : E. Plon, 1863.
Hat tip to Amy Crehore.
22 Apr 2007
Reuters reports that a small Iowa town has identified itself as the future birthplace of Star Trek Captain James T. Kirk.
A small Iowa town is trying to lure tourists by going where no town has gone before — forward 200 years in time to be the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from cult science fiction show “Star Trek.”
Welcome to Riverside, a once prosperous little farming town with a population of 928 that has fallen on hard times, wants to attract tourists and much needed money with a “Star Trek” museum to revive its largely lifeless, boarded-up main drag.
The town has no famous offspring like West Branch, 25 miles away, where former U.S. President Herbert Hoover was born in 1874, and can’t boast the “World’s Largest Strawberry,” a 15 feet high fiberglass fruit, like Strawberry Point, 100 miles to the north.
So former town councilor and self-declared “Trekkie” Steve Miller in 1985 persuaded the council to declare Riverside the future birthplace as Kirk, a main character of the “Star Trek” television series that began in 1966 and following films.
“Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote a book saying Kirk will be born in Iowa, but didn’t say where,” said Miller. ”So I thought ’why not here?”’
Kirk’s birthday was never officially established but the town lists it on a plaque as March 22, 2228. The show’s official Web site, however, says he was born on March 22, 2233. Canadian actor William Shatner who played the captain of the starship Enterprise was born in real-life on March 22.
Read the whole thing.
03 Apr 2007
The Obama campaign is not responsible for this.
18 Mar 2007
He has some reservations about the film, of course, but Stephenson thinks it’s an acceptable assimilation of history to contemporary entertainment genre.
Many critics dislike “300” so intensely that they refused to do it the honor of criticizing it as if it were a real movie. Critics at a festival in Berlin walked out, and accused its director of being on the Bush payroll.
Thermopylae is a wedge issue!
Lefties can’t abide lionizing a bunch of militaristic slave-owners (even if they did happen to be long-haired supporters of women’s rights). So you might think that righties would love the film. But they’re nervous that Emperor Xerxes of Persia, not the freedom-loving Leonidas, might be George Bush.
Our so-called conservatives, who have cut all ties to their own intellectual moorings, now espouse policies and personalities that would get them laughed out of Periclean Athens. The few conservatives still able to hold up one end of a Socratic dialogue are those in the ostracized libertarian wing — interestingly enough, a group with a disproportionately high representation among fans of speculative fiction.
The less politicized majority, who perhaps would like to draw inspiration from this story without glossing over the crazy and defective aspects of Spartan society, have turned, in droves, to a film from the alternative cultural universe of fantasy and science fiction. Styled and informed by pulp novels, comic books, video games and Asian martial arts flicks, science fiction eats this kind of material up, and expresses it in ways that look impossibly weird to people who aren’t used to it…
When science fiction tackles classical themes, the results may look a bit odd to some, but the audience — which is increasingly the mainstream audience — is sufficiently hungry for this kind of material (and, perhaps, suspicious of anything that’s overly polished) that it is willing to overlook the occasional mistake, or make up for it by shouting hilarious things from the balcony. These people don’t need irony or campiness self-consciously pointed out to them, any more than they need a laugh track to enjoy “The Simpsons.”
The Spartan phalanx presents itself to foes as a wall of shields, bristling with spears, its members squatting behind their defenses, anonymous and unknowable, until they break formation and stand out alone, practically naked, soft, exposed and recognizable as individuals.
The audience members watching them play the same game: media-weary, hunkered down behind thick irony, flinging verbal jabs at the screen — until they see something that moves them. Then they’ll come out and feel. But at the first hint of politics, they’ll jump back behind their shield-wall, just like the Spartans when millions of Persian arrows blot out the sun, and wait until the noise stops.
Read the whole thing.
15 Mar 2007
SciFi Weekly reports:
Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (sic), who are writing the 11th Star Trek movie, revealed a few key points about the top-secret script in an interview with MTV.com. Among the revelations: The movie will be titled, simply, Star Trek; it will take place aboard a starship; and they’re OK with Matt Damon playing Capt. James T. Kirk.
Not that the writers confirmed that Damon had been cast, as rumored. “I’m the hugest Matt Damon fan ever,” Kurtzman told the site. “If he became [Kirk], great.”
10 Mar 2007
Dave of Garfield Ridge gets to visit the Vancouver set of the favorite current television show of many intellectuals, the Sci Fi channel’s Battlestar Gallatica.
Dave gets to tour the program’s sets, and even hobnobs with a number of members of the cast, including Edward James Olmos, who discloses that this season
the show was heading into a dark place, even going so far as to call series creator Ron Moore “a real sicko” for what he was doing.
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