One possible definition of sci-fi involves questions posed in the terms of a futurological imagination: technologies that haven’t yet been invented, worlds that haven’t yet come to be, places that haven’t yet been discovered. Most fantasy or superhero narratives ask us to accept their realities, while sci-fi films more often than not beg us to question theirs, even if the characters don’t. Perhaps that’s why there’s such a current of paranoia running through the genre, such an obsession with secrets: references hidden in the production design, subtexts, ambiguous endings. Whether the world of a sci-fi film is a decadent distant future where eugenics, drugs, and mental conditioning have replaced computers or a garage in a present-day Texas suburb, it’s based on some kind of question, even if the question is simply, “Is this real?”
So much to agree and disagree with! While their #2 should clearly be at #1 and Fury Road is too low for me, I’m delighted to see Moon and Looper in here, and Primer ranked so highly.
Ah, charts: where you can please some of the people some of the time and all of the people none of the time.
A series of varying regularity, wherein I point at things I’ve read on the internet. Some sci, some fi, some fantasy, some very random.
Elon Musk continues to be entirely serious about colonizing Mars. And now he’s pretty sure he can make money doing it, and business being what it is, that makes the whole endeavor a lot more likely to succeed. From NYT:
Speaking on Friday at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, Mr. Musk said he had figured out a workable business plan, although his presentation lacked financial figures to back up his assertions.
Mr. Musk has long talked about his dreams of colonizing Mars, and at the same conference last year, he finally provided engineering details: a humongous reusable rocket called the Interplanetary Transport System.
But he did not convincingly explain then how SpaceX, still a company of modest size and revenues, could finance such an ambitious project.
“Now we think we have a better way to do it,” he said Friday.
The new rocket and spaceship would replace everything that SpaceX is currently launching or plans to launch in the near future. “That’s really fundamental,” Mr. Musk said.
While we’re on the topic, if you haven’t already read Tim Urban’s incrediblyin-depth post on Space X and Musk’s plan for a Martian colony, you really should set aside a while and dive in. It’s truly fascinating stuff. In fact, do yourself a favor and read his entire series on Musk and his businesses: you may not be as big a fan as Urban is (and, full disclosure, I am) but it’s worth your time to understand the man and what he’s aiming to do. He’s one of a few individuals, along with Bezos and Zuckerberg, who have the ambition, finances and staggering arrogance to fully believe they can change the world for the better–and who knows, might even be right.
I’m a bit surprised simply because the original, which starred Scarlett Johansson as the eponymous Lucy, who gains super thinking powers after a weird run in with some superdrugs, didn’t leave much room in its ending for a sequel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly trashy original, so I’d certainly give a sequel a look. Interested to see what direction he’s gone with it. ScarJo as God? With Luc Besson, you really never know.
It will adapt Neal Stephenson classic, neo-quasi-cyberpunk novel which introduces us to pizza deliveryman/hacker Hiro Protagonist, his business partner YT, and their adventures in a future divided between life in a grim corprocracy and in the Metaverse, a virtual reality that is being threatened by a terrifying virus.
I’d particularly like to see Snow Crash on TV, just to see a group of actors attempt to say ‘Hiro Protagonist’ with a straight face.
Imagine you’re knitting a scarf. You’re about two thirds of the way done, and it’s coming along nicely. You’ve got lots of stripes of different colours, and it’s going to be a good length–once around the neck and then a jaunty flip over the shoulder length–and you’re happy with it.
Pretty happy with it. Yeah. It’s going to be a good scarf.
But not a great scarf.
Is that really the length you want in a scarf? What sort of weather would you wear that in? Wouldn’t it be better if it was just a bit longer? Maybe twice around the neck, and tuck the ends into the front of your coat long. That’d keep you warm.
And how about those colours? They’re great colours, sure–you’ve got red and orange and green and blue and it sounds like it should clash but it really doesn’t.
It could be… snazzier. Maybe–just maybe–you throw some magenta in there too. Or cyan. Or cerulean. (Polka dots? No.) But something that pops.
Now that would be a scarf.
The tricky part is, you can’t just add the new colour and the extra length at the end, oh no. You’ve got to weave it in. You’ve got to add a stripe in near the start, then another few in the middle, and again at the end, and it’s got to flow, seamlessly, as if the new colour had been there all along and the scarf was always going to be this long.
The first in a series of varying regularity, wherein I point at things I’ve read on the internet. Some sci, some fi, some fantasy, some very random.
First up, the wonderfully titled ‘Middle-earth Cage Match: Bill the Pony vs. Shadowfax‘ over at Tor.com. The author has really put some work in to first articulate what in the heck the difference between a horse and a pony really is, anyway, and then who would win in a cross-discipline matchup between sturdy Bill and coiffed glamour boy Shadowfax.
Pound for pound, too, a pony can be stronger than a horse. Shetlands can carry a grown man with ease, though his feet may drag on the ground. Horses will lose weight-bearing capability as they get larger; a very large horse is challenged enough to carry his own weight around without also carrying a heavy rider. A really big horse is not what you want to carry your very heavy rider, especially if he’s in armor. You want a cob, a stocky, sturdily built animal in the mid rage between pony and horse—14.2 to 15.2 hands. The Welsh Cob is a great example, as is the Lipizzaner. Forlong the Fat, in my head, is riding a largeish Welsh Cob, and the Cob is rocking it.
At io9, Tom Hiddlestone is surprised Loki hasn’t been offed yet. I’m not, given he’s the best character in the MCU in my humble opinion. As the author points out:
He manages to bring a dashing chaos to Loki, like James Bond doing a Joker impression.
(Time to dust off those Hiddlestone-replaces-Craig-as-Bond rumors, too.)
Oh my word. Adam at The Wertzone appears to have written at least a hundred thousands words ‘summarizing’ the history of Middle-earth in ten parts so far. Impressive, albeit intimidating. Warm up, stretch and hydrate before attempting.
Back in the MCU (kind of – MTU?), the trailer for the upcoming Punisher Netflix show dropped. And Frank… well, Frank is angry.
I’m very excited to see this, as John Bernthal is fantastic and his Frank Castle was the best part of a… let’s say uneven season two of Daredevil. I’ve a little catching up to do first though, as I’ve yet to finish Luke Cage (excellent), Iron Fist (slog) or even start The Defenders. Of the latter, I’ve heard good things, but apparently people aren’t watching it–perhaps more viewers than just me are struggling to keep up with all the other good TV on. (We’ve only just started Stranger Things and season two starts next month!)
Writers David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman will be transforming the novels for the small screen. Goyer’s credits include Ghost Rider and Blade, while Friedman’s projects include the War of the worlds remake and Terminator: the Sarah Connor chronicles.
I’ve read all of the Foundation novels, and as well as being wonderful science fiction novels they’re all to an extent treatises on philosophy, psychology, sociology and politics. Whether that depth can be adequately transferred to a TV version is debatable–but I’m sure plenty of A Song of Ice and Fire fans were convinced that was unadaptable too.
As study author Patricia Brennan, a visiting lecturer of biological sciences at the institution, told National Geographic earlier this week, she didn’t even realize until near the end of her graduate school work that birds could even have penises. In fact, 97% of them do not, she explained.
Male ducks are one of the exceptions, and unlike most species, they grow a new one each year. Most of the time, they are hidden, but you can convince a duck into showing you his by turning him over onto his back and applying pressure to his belly, Brennan noted. “If you know exactly where to press, you can pop the penis out. They’re quite cooperative.”
I just don’t know any more. Even a casual reader of this blog, one as casual as I am a writer of it, will know that I GODDAMN LOVE SUPERHERO MOVIES. They’re literally the best, Batman. But…but…
That’s just so many films. When DC announced their slate of movies in some shareholder meeting or a Forbes article or whatever it was, I said to myself: Cool, I look forward to Justice League and Shazam has The Rock, so that’s good, and also ugh Aquaman and Green Lantern.
However, I’ve always had a lot more love for the Lee/Kirby side of the fence, so when Marvel dropped the entire remaining Marvel Cinematic Universe release calendar I immediately memorised the order and what month and year they’re all due to come out. Because…because that’s important information.
But I look at that combined calendar above, with not just DCU and MCU movies but your X-Men and Fantastic Four titles from Fox and your increasingly terrible Spiderman franchise from Sony and I think: Am I really going to go to the cinema and watch TEN superhero movies in 2017? Even if one of them is Lego Batman? (Though Female Lead Spider-Man Spin-Off has always been one of my favourite comics.)
I suspect that come April 3rd 2020 we’ll all still be so full superhero-stuffed from ten months prior–having watched Avengers: Infinity War 2 AND Justice League 2 in the space of six weeks–that we’ll be at saturation point. “No thank you, Mr. Cyborg. I’m done. I couldn’t eat another bite. Even if it is wafer-thin. And if you think I’m watching another Green Lantern movie you’re more gullible than those people who thought Marvel would actually kill off Chris Hemsworth and replace him with a female Thor”.
Still, Age of Ultron looks badass. Definitely excited about that.
A bold claim, as reported in io9. The company’s own website has more detail including a compelling timeline that has fusion powering small cities in fifteen years and providing inexpensive power to the developing world in twenty.
This is a development worth keeping an eye on, as io9 point out:
Harnessing fusion has been the Holy Grail of physics, a game-changing solution that could provide a virtually unlimited source of cheap energy.
LM also rolled out this cheery guy to explain what the heck nuclear fusion is in case anyone’s forgotten.
I’m disappointed that only the intro had a dramatic dubstep soundtrack, though.
Scribd. Never heard of it? Nor had I until a few days ago. For $8.99 per month you get allegedly unlimited access to allegedly over 400,000 books–which sounds like a heck of a bargain if you read even just a few books a month. You can also buy books outright, if you want to keep them.
Anyway. Thanks to the fabulous folks at Draft2Digital–the distributors through which my books reach iTunes and Barnes and Noble–both Ascension Point and Venus Rising are live on the site. Payment terms are pretty reasonable: the author gets paid for any sale as you’d expect, but also for any subscription read where the reader got past the 30% mark. Which is pretty neat. They even count ten 10-30% reads as one sale too, which is a little bonus.
Plus, the Scribd site is SWANK.
Just look at that. Mmm. Shiny.
I’ve added Scribd to the store links for both books in the bar on the left, so head on over and check it out.
Ah, The CW. Bizarrely-named TV network, home of Dan and Mrs. Dan’s cheesy favourites The Vampire Diaries and its Bayou-based spinoff The Originals. Mrs. Dan also watches Reign, the Mary Queen of Scots historical soap where apparently everyone’s speaking French but it’s in English and it’s set in Scotland but who cares they have nice outfits.
I’ve got off topic.
The CW. Right. Where every commercial break is home to at least one trailer for another show on the network, from the excruciatingly titled The Tomorrow People to ‘how is this show still going’ Supernatural. And, of course, Arrow, based on the somewhat famous DC comics character, Green Arrow.
Based on the clips I’d seen, it looked pretty mediocre. Probably kind of fun and fairly entertaining, but hey – there’s a lot of TV to watch and only so much time. But then I started coming across extremely positive reviews of episodes in the current (or rather, just finished) season two, and it seemed like it was time to give it a shot.
So I slowly worked my way through season one, and it was indeed kind of fun, quite uneven, some good episodes, some pretty bad, but still solid TV. Enough to make me want to stick with it for season two.
Which I just watched in a week.
Holy crap did it get good. I don’t know what changed behind the scenes, or if it was just a case of the writers hitting their stride, but season two starts strong and only gets better. The second half of the season is probably the most consistently excellent TV I’ve seen from a show that isn’t one of the critics’ darlings (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Americans). Well paced, exciting, funny, believable characterisation, explosions, people in masks beating the crap out of each other–what more could you want?
Ridiculously buff shirtless guys working out, you say?