Category Archive 'Science Fiction'
11 Nov 2012

BSG: Blood and Chrome

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William Adama, young and old versions

Released Friday as a podcast: Episode 1 of Battlestar Gallactica: Blood and Chrome. To be broadcast complete on the Sci Fi Channel in January.

Wikipedia:

Set in the tenth year of the First Cylon War, the story follows William Adama as a young man, with the call sign “Husker.”
William, being a recent Academy graduate, is assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica. He is ordered to escort a young woman, who eventually turns out to have vital information that carries significant importance to certain Cylon secrets. …The routine mission eventually turns dangerous and becomes a pivotal part in their story.

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Trailer:

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Episode 1:

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Episode 2:

09 Jan 2012

New Nevada Brothel to Offer Opportunity to Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

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Is Jabba the Hutt a role-model to you? Do your personal fantasies run to inter-species sexual exploitation? A Nevada entrepreneur named Dennis Hof (best known for publicizing a brothel he owns via a reality tv program on HBO) plans to open the “Area 51 Alien Travel Center,” a Sci Fi-themed bordello 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas on Highway 95. Hof has announced that he is hiring Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss to dream up female alien costumes, make up, and decor.

Las Vegas Review story

Hat tip to Emmy Chang.

05 Sep 2011

Could I Destroy the Entire Roman Empire During the Reign of Augustus if I Traveled Back in Time with a Modern U.S. Marine Infantry Battalion or MEU?

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Here is an intriguing plot line for an alternative history series along the lines of the Eric Flint’s 1632

Prufrock451 took us somewhat cursorily through the first week of the 35th MEU’s adventures in Ancient Rome. He has a series franchise here if he continues.

The Marines aren’t going to have any problems dealing with local military forces, as long as they still have ammunition and fuel. But when they inevitably run out of cartridges, what then? One detail I’d suggest to assist in plotting is to be sure to bring along a Navy support ship with an on-board machine shop.

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Wikipedia tells us that a typical Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU, pronounced “Myuu”) has approximately 2,200 Marines and sailors. It is equipped with:

Ground
4 M1A1 main battle tank
7 to 16 Light Armored Vehicle
15 Amphibious Assault Vehicle
6 155mm howitzer: M198 or M777
8 M252 81mm mortar
8 BGM-71 Tube Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire Guided (TOW) missile weapon system
8 FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile

Aviation
4 to 6 AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters
3 UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopter
12 CH-46E Sea Knight medium lift assault helicopter
4 CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift assault helicopter
6 AV-8B Harrier jet
2 KC-130 Hercules re-fueler/transport aircraft
Note: usually maintained in the continental United States

Logistics
2 Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit
1 LMT 3000 water purification unit
4 Tractor, Rubber Tire, Articulated Steering
2 TX51-19M Rough Terrain Forklift
3 D7 bulldozer
1 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement dump truck
4 Mk48 Logistics Vehicle System

Multiple
7 500 gallon water containers
63 Humvee
30 Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks

A Marine Infantry Battalion constitutes essentially the ground portion of an MEU, and may contain 2–5 companies, with a total of 500 to 1,200 Marines in the battalion.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

15 Mar 2011

The History of Science Fiction Illustrated

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Click on the image

A graphic from Places & Spaces via Shannon Connors and Leah Libresco.

27 Oct 2010

Olivia Wilde for MoveOn.Org

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We House viewers have been wondering where the lovely Olivia Wilde went.

Well, now we know. She’s been making a Sci Fi-themed political advertisement for MoveOn.org, playing a rebel from the year 2050 urging liberals to vote in order to prevent a dystopian Republican future.

It’s daft, but very funny. Go President Palin! Teach that Pacific Ocean a lesson.

(It shouldn’t be surprising that Olivia Wilde is a commie. Not only is she a representative of Hollywood, her real name is Olivia Jane Cockburn. Yes, Alexander Cockburn is her uncle, and Claude Cockburn was her grandfather. Stalin was godfather for most of the older members of her family.)

02 Mar 2010

The Alarming Jewish Fantasy Gap

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Karen has forwarded to me a link to an article by Michael Weingrad undertaking a nerdworthy analysis of the lack of significant Jewish contribution to the Tolkienian fantasy genre.

[I]f Christianity is a fantasy religion, then Judaism is a science fiction religion. If the former is individualistic, magical, and salvationist, the latter is collective, technical, and this-worldly. Judaism’s divine drama is connected with a specific people in a specific place within a specific history. Its halakhic core is not, I think, convincingly represented in fantasy allegory. In its rabbinic elaboration, even the messianic idea is shorn of its mythic and apocalyptic potential. Whereas fantasy grows naturally out of Christian soil, Judaism’s more adamant separation from myth and magic render classic elements of the fantasy genre undeveloped or suspect in the Jewish imaginative tradition. Let us take two central examples: the magical world and the idea of evil.

Christianity has a much more vivid memory and even appreciation of the pagan worlds which preceded it than does Judaism. Neither Canaanite nor Egyptian civilizations exercise much fascination for the Jewish imagination, and certainly not as a place of enchantment or escape.

I’m not sure that his thesis is actually all that correct. If so, he would have to have to have a very specific kind of fantasy fiction in mind. Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a fantasy. Roger Zelazny’s Amber series ought to serve as a very successful example of Jewish-written fantasy. Neil Gaiman is Jewish. And so on.

04 Nov 2009

V = O

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The Chicago Tribune gleefully welcomes a new primetime Sci Fi drama which premiered on ABC last night. One of the principal aliens is played by Morena Baccarin, who was the beautiful courtesan in Firefly/Serenity.

The new show’s plot features some amusing parallels to reality.

Imagine this. At a time of political turmoil, a charismatic, telegenic new leader arrives virtually out of nowhere. He offers a message of hope and reconciliation based on compromise and promises to marshal technology for a better future that will include universal health care.

The news media swoons in admiration — one simpering anchorman even shouts at a reporter who asks a tough question: “Why don’t you show some respect?!” The public is likewise smitten, except for a few nut cases who circulate batty rumors on the Internet about the leader’s origins and intentions. The leader, undismayed, offers assurances that are soothing, if also just a tiny bit condescending: “Embracing change is never easy.”

So, does that sound like anyone you know? Oh, wait — did I mention the leader is secretly a totalitarian space lizard who’s come here to eat us?

Welcome to ABC’s “V,” the most fascinating and bound to be the most controversial new show of the fall television season. Nominally a rousing sci-fi space opera about alien invaders bent on the conquest (and digestion) of all humanity, it’s also a barbed commentary on Obamamania that will infuriate the president’s supporters and delight his detractors. …

The aliens — who become known as V’s, for visitors — quickly enthrall their wide-eyed human hosts.

A handful of dissidents hold out against the rapturous reception given the V’s. Some are simply uneasy, such as the youthful priest Father Jack (Joel Gretsch, “The 4400”), who sharply criticizes the Vatican’s embrace of the V’s as divine creations: “Rattlesnakes are God’s creatures too.”

11 Mar 2009

Build Deadly Sci Fi Gadgets at Home

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Cracked serves up recipes and videos explaining how to construct your own Tesla Coil, Laser, RailGun, ExoSuit, and/or Jet Pack at home.

Why, with any one of which an enterprizing fellow could… dare I say it? Rule the world. (Maniacal laugh)

Hat tip to Conservative Grapevine.

03 Feb 2009

Aliens From Planet Islam

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Ralph Peters takes the Heinleinian view of our Taliban adversaries.

A fundamental reason why our intelligence agencies, military leaders and (above all) Washington pols can’t understand Afghanistan is that they don’t recognize that we’re dealing with alien life-forms.

Oh, the strange-minded aliens in question resemble us physically. We share a few common needs: We and the aliens are oxygen breathers who require food and water at frequent intervals. Our body casings feel heat or cold. We’re divided into two sexes (more or less). And we’re mortal.

But that’s about where the similarities end, analytically speaking. …

Regarding Planet Afghanistan, we still hear the deadly cliché that “all human beings want the same basic things, such as better lives and greater opportunities for their children.” How does that apply to Afghan aliens who prefer their crude way of life and its merciless cults?

When girls and women are denied education or even health care and are executed by their own kin for minor infractions against the cult, how does that square with our insistence that all men want greater opportunities for the kids?

What about those Afghan parents who approve of or even encourage suicidal attacks by their sons? This not only confounds our value system, but defies biological reason.

So: These humanoid forms with which we must deal don’t all want or value the same things we do. They form different social aggregates and exchange goods and services within wildly different parameters (and exhibit hypocritical sexual tastes that diverge from procreative mandates – ask our troops about that).

These alien tribes seek to destroy physical objects and systems valued on Planet America. They perceive time differently. They treat other life forms more harshly than we do. Their own lives are shorter, with different arcs. They quite like our weapons, though .

This is a “war of the worlds” in the cultural sense, a head-on collision between civilizations from different galaxies.

And the aliens don’t come in peace.

Read the whole thing.

11 Dec 2008

“Klaatu Barada Nikto” To You, Too

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Clara Moskowitz describes how Hollywood updates message Sci Fi cinema. In the end, audiences will find that Keanu Reeves is no Michael Rennie.

If aliens ever visit Earth, they’ll be coming to reprimand us for bad behavior.

That’s the premise of the 1951 classic sci-fi film “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” as well as the brand-new Fox remake of the same name, in theaters Friday. In the intervening 50 years, humanity hasn’t gotten any better, the filmmakers seem to conclude — we’ve just switched to new transgressions.

In the mid 20th century our most pressing concern about ourselves was the threat of humans annihilating each other with nuclear weapons. The original film follows Klaatu, a human-looking alien who comes to Earth with his bodyguard robot Gort, to warn people to cease and desist with the nukes before we contaminate the rest of the Galaxy with them.

The new version of the film focuses on a more contemporary preoccupation: the threat of climate change and environmental degradation. The new Klaatu, played by Keanu Reeves, couldn’t care less if we blew ourselves to bits, but would we mind not taking out the rest of the species on Earth, as well as our rare habitable planet, with us? ..

..It falls to astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) and her stepson Jacob (Jayden Smith, son of Will Smith) to convince Klaatu that humans aren’t beyond redemption, that we really can change our gas-guzzling, trash-dumping ways.

“In re-imagining this picture, we had an opportunity to capture a real kind of angst that people are living with today, a very present concern that the way we are living may have disastrous consequences for the planet,” (deep-thinker Keanu) Reeves said. “I feel like this movie is responding to those anxieties. It’s holding a mirror up to our relationship with nature and asking us to look at our impact on the planet, for the survival of our species and others.”

In a sign of its own commitment to change, Fox designated “The Day the Earth Stood Still”as its first “green” production. Though some trees were doubtless harmed in the making of this film, the studio endeavored to produce the picture with the smallest possible environmental impact. That meant less paper printing of photo stills for the art department, the use of recyclable materials and biodegradable products to create sets and props, and lumber from sustainably-managed forests.

The studio even enforced an “idle-free mandate,” whereby any member of the crew sitting in a production vehicle for more than three minutes had to cut the engine rather than idle while waiting.

In another grand gesture, Fox plans to transmit the entire film into space on Friday via dish antenna through the Orlando, Fla.-based Deep Space Communications Network firm. In what the studio is calling “the world’s first galactic motion picture release,” the movie will be broadcast in the direction of the closest star system, Alpha Centauri, where eager aliens waiting with popcorn could view it by 2012, when the signal arrives.

Some might suggest that physically transmitting the complete set of distribution prints into deep space would be even better.

0:21 video

14 Jul 2008

SF & Feminism

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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.

21 Mar 2008

From a Time Travellers’ Discussion Board

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International Association of Time Travelers: Members’ Forum Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
Page 263

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