Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcome to the New Year

*brushes the dust off*  Wow, has it really been three months?

Ok, so, bloggist failings aside, there are some cool things going on in sci fi at the moment.  More on that in the coming weeks.  For now, please enjoy this piece of extremely highbrow humor while we get our blogging house in order.

courtesy Reddit

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's 2010, and I would like my flying car, please.


Two ways you'll know the future has arrived, according to the gospel of The Jetsons: we have mouthy robot servants to manage our lives, and we all drive flying cars or have personal jetpacks.  

Well, I don't see any robots around (at least ones that don't scare the bejeebus out of me by tripping and falling squarely into the uncanny valley, a la this specimen) , but jetpacks and flying cars are getting closer to becoming a reality.

Case in point: the Transition.  I say getting closer, because to me this still looks mostly like a plane (although it becomes more VW-bug like when the wings are folded up).  It's only a mere $10,000 to be put on the waiting list behind 70 other prospective futurists, and a cool $194,000 expected sticker price.  Added drag: total fuel hog.  So yeah, we're closer but not quite there yet.  Show me one that runs on renewable energy, and maybe I'll get in line.

Sadly, that's still science fiction for now.

I'm still waiting for my jetpack, too.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Salaryman robots...a cultural diversion

As most of the people reading this blog know me in real life or in other various internet incarnations, I think most of you know that while I love science fiction, I also love many aspects of Japan and Japanese culture.  I lived in Japan for a couple of years and did my graduate work at Cornell on Japanese Literature, so some of that is bound to seep through, here and elsewhere.

In that light, please enjoy this somewhat sci-fi lookin' Japanese music video from World Order, called Mind Shift:

More interestingly (to me, anyway), after doing some quick googling, I discovered two great blog posts about this song. talks about the lead singer, Genki Sudo, and his Mixed Martial Arts career before he got into J-Pop.  It also discusses some of the larger themes in the song itself, which is fairly important to the music video.  This blog over at sheds some light on the actual lyrics.  The TL;DR version seems to be that it's about a salary-man feeling out of touch with the spiritual, creative side of life, leaving him feeling like a mechanical, robotic part of society.

I love that on the surface this looks like a slightly goofy musical video of businessmen doing silly things in Japan...but that underneath, this has got a rather important message about life in Japan (and for workers in most places, I reckon).  Rather like Genki Sudo himself, there's a lot more than meets the eye.

Also?  It's pretty darn catchy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why we should read science fiction

io9 has a great excerpt from a longer article up about why people should read science fiction.  From the article: "Why should you be reading more science fiction? Not just for the thrills or awesome science. You should read SF to explore ideas about society that academics and pundits won't talk about, writes Walter Russell Mead in The American Interest."

Read more here >

That's always been the major draw of science fiction for me: what happens to the people of the speculative elsewhere/when?  I think it's why I like political science theory so much - basically it's all about trying to imagine what people will do when put into a certain situation.  Sci-fi usually incorporates much more, of course: it's also about technology, of discovery and innovation.  And aliens.  However, while I love all that about sci-fi, it's really what the people do when they encounter these new things that interests me.  

It's kind of interesting to look at sci-fi from an historical point of view, as well: since sci as a whole often reflects our cultural fears and societal norms of the time, reading something like Alas, Babylon or pulp novels from nearer to the turn of the century like People of the Mist or War of the Worlds can be an interesting exercise in social history.  I like to call those retro-futures (and for a tangible example, wandering around the Tomorrow World part of Epcot Center is the biggest retro-future phantasmagoria I can think of).  They reflect all the hopes and fears of the time when they were created, as well as all the cultural biases and bigotry.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Artificial skin made from nanowires

Things like this make me happy: reports that "A pressure-sensitive electronic material made from semiconductor nanowires—dubbed e-skin—could one day give new meaning to the term “thin-skinned.”"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 incredibly cheesy-looking movies to get excited about

Not everyone loves schlocky sci-fi movies.  They're an acquired taste, kind of like natto or kimchi.  Also, what might be a B movie to some might be a paragon of film-making to others.  However, if you've been a sci-fi fan for very long, chances are you've seen one or two, maybe without meaning to.  There's a lot of kitsch out there, and sometimes that's the most fun.  In that vein, here's 5 that I'm excited about seeing.  Whether or not they'll be good, well, that depends entirely on your definition.

1.) Age of the Dragons
Ok, never mind that it sounds kind of dirty; in the same vein as "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," we now have "Moby Dick and Dragons."  Cheese-fest meter?  Probably high, since there's about 2 lines of dialog shown in the trailer, and one of them is yelled.

2.) Skyline
Well, people getting sucked up into the sky is a good place to start on the schlock-o-meter.  They quote Stephen Hawking's 'aliens probably don't wanna make friends' bit, so that's also a point in its favor.

3.) Monsters
I have to admit, I really like the premise of this film.  It sounds a little District 9-ish in some ways, and glowing mutant mushrooms are cool.

4.) Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
The name is certainly long enough.  Movies about animals are always tricky, and this movie might rightly be classified as fantasy rather than sci-fi, but I think it deserves a billing for content, if not style.

5.) Tron: Legacy
This one I'm a little worried about, although I'm still looking forward to seeing it.  There's the good kind of cheesy, which is a film it doesn't take itself too seriously, and then there's bad cheese which does, and this may wind up being in the second category.  The original was a cult classic; hopefully this one is enjoyable.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Honor of H.P. Lovecraft

Today is H.P. Lovecraft's Birthday!  I figure those of you reading this blog are well familiar with his work, but if not, click here.  For other fun, Lovecraft-related stuff, here are a few links:

Via McSweeneys, Selections from H.P. Lovecraft's Brief Tenure as a Whitman's Sampler Copywriter.  

A great, Lovecraft-inspired graphic novel: Lovecraft is Missing (thanks, @ThirdMusket)

Cthuugle: The Search Engine Man Was Not Meant to Know!

And of course, you can always get your own Cthulhu over at