Syfy’s Defiance is go for a second season, extending a collaboration between the show and its online game which to date has garnered 1 million registered accounts.
Defiance has been a massive investment for Syfy and Universal Cable Productions. Billed as a “transmedia experience,” the series is tied to a massively multiplayer online video game. The combined price tag of the freshman season and the video game is a cool $100 million.
The show is set in a vastly changed American Midwest:
Set in the near future, Defiance features an exotically transformed planet Earth, its landscapes permanently altered following the sudden – and tumultuous – arrival of seven unique alien races. In this somewhat unknown and unpredictable landscape, the richly diverse, newly-formed civilization of humans and aliens must learn to co-exist peacefully. Each week, viewers follow an immersive character drama set in the boom-town of Defiance, which sits atop the ruins of St. Louis, Missouri, while in the game, players will experience the new frontier of the San Francisco Bay area.
David Klaus is intrigued by the show’s use of his hometown but wishes the culture had more depth:
Their “St. Louis” underground is a strange parallel to the real thing, and they’ve made local geography and cultural mistakes, but these are mixed in with a few things right. The sf elements are cliched, with each race being a cultural stereotype w/everyone from the race all being the same. Instead of Klingons=warriors, Ferengi=shady businessmen, it’s Irathians=mysteriously religious, Ibogenes=super-scientists, Liberata=cynical domestic servants, Castithians=schemers. Literal racism.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]
By David Klaus: Deadline’s Nikki Finke reports Avengers 2 casting isn’t settled because everybody needs more money:
First and foremost Marvel does not have Downey in place yet. ”They need him, and they don’t have him. He’s got a lot of leverage,” one insider tells me. Much less so Scarlett Johannsen (paid to pop up in Marvel movie after movie), Chris Evans (whom some sources say made his deal for Avengers 2 when he signed for Captain America 2), Chris Hemsworth (a much bigger star now than before and unsigned for Avengers 2), Mark Ruffalo (whose Hulk role already was cast 3 times and could be the most vulnerable), Jeremy Renner (probably grateful for more exposure), Samuel L. Jackson (Scarlett’s doppelganger) among others who were paid pittances for their first movies, not much better for the sequels, and are counting on at least $5 million upfront and better back ends for Avengers 2.
Comic fans are going to be really upset if there are major actor replacements for some of the now-established Marvel hero characters — but with Robert Downey, Jr. getting $35,000,000 in salary for The Avengers while other leads got as little as $200,000, rumblings are inevitable — when you add the strict diet and exercise required for the super-hero physiques….
It’s like first-season Star Trek, in which Shatner got $5,000/per week, and Nimoy got $1,250/week for the same work load.
By David Klaus: Designed and built by British engineers in their spare time in only three months, massing less than ten pounds, no larger than a chrome toaster oven, STRaND 1 will phone home, and includes an app that tests whether in space anyone can hear you scream. It is not, however, in a blue box.
I didn’t think you could put so many in-jokes into one satellite.
Here’s what Spaceflight Now says about the capabilities of STRaND 1 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) –
The phone is mounted on a panel inside the satellite, with its camera aligned with a hole to take pictures of Earth…
Applications installed on the smartphone will help control the satellite, collect scientific data and try to boost interest in space exploration. The Scream in Space app… will play videos of the best screams while in orbit, and the screams will be recorded using the smartphone’s own microphone. iTesa will record the magnitude of the magnetic field around the phone in orbit… The STRAND Data app will show satellite telemetry on the smartphone’s display… The 360 app will take images using the smartphone’s camera and use the technology onboard the spacecraft to establish STRaND-1′s position. The public will be able to request their own unique satellite image of Earth through the website, where images can be seen on a map showing where they have been acquired.
By David Klaus: I’m watching C-SPAN 1.
In the debate on a bill about federal lands and water (it would have prevented the Border Patrol and DHS from violating land conservation laws, cancel an authorization for the killing of seals for eating their normal diet — fish — that humans want, de-authorized federal funding for State shooting ranges, and said the Border Patrol/DHS could not violate Indian burial grounds), Congressman Edward Markey (D., 7th Dist., Ma.) opened his debate speech by quoting in its entirety one of the Rod Serling opening credits narrations of The Twilight Zone, by name, because he thought that’s where this bill came from and belonged.
(The bill passed anyway, so as far as the House is concerned, the Border Patrol/DHS can despoil federal land and Indian burial grounds with impunity, fisherman competing with seals can kill them, and every state can get a deficit-paid shooting range.)
David Klaus sent me a link to ”Magnetic Moon” and his comment — “Another WHAMMO! explanation for an anomaly.”
In the nearly five decades since the first lunar surveys were conducted as part of NASA’s Apollo program, scientists have advanced a number of increasingly complex theories to explain the vast swaths of highly magnetic material that had been found in the some parts of the Moon’s crust.
But now a team of researchers from Harvard, MIT and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, have proposed a surprisingly simple explanation for the unusual findings – the magnetic anomalies are remnants of a massive asteroid collision. As described in a paper published in Science, the researchers believe an asteroid slammed into the moon approximately 4 billion years ago, leaving behind an enormous crater and iron-rich, highly magnetic rock.
David concludes: “So much for Clarke’s TMA-1, but add points for Deep Impact and Lucifer’s Hammer.”
Footnote: If anyone hasn’t guessed, David is referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey:
The object before which the spacesuited man was posing was a vertical slab of jet-black material, about ten feet high and five feet wide: it reminded Floyd, somewhat ominously, of a giant tombstone. Perfectly sharp-edged and symmetrical, it was so black it seemed to have swallowed up the light falling upon it; there was no surface detail at all. It was impossible to tell whether it was made of stone or metal or plastic – or some material altogether unknown to man.
“TMA-1,” Dr. Michaels declared, almost reverently.
By David Klaus: The novelization of Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks, given away at IguanaCon (1978 Worldcon) by the publisher as a promotion, was the first full-length story of The Doctor I ever knew of, as the program wasn’t available in St. Louis at the time. I was so new to the Whoniverse that I had only seen a couple of clips with Tom Baker and that was it, not even knowing of Jon Pertwee yet. When I read it, I saw Mr. Baker in my mind as I read, not the late Mr. Pertwee.
Harlan Ellison, as I recall, later described the IguanaCon presentation as having fans out for his blood and ready to riot because he was contemptuous from the podium of other s.f. heroes as empty shells or something similar, particularly Luke Skywalker (as this was the year after the first movie premiered and the convention at which it won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, back when it was just Star Wars, not Star Wars: A New Hope), in favor of “My hero, Doctor Who!”
I’m glad he liked the program and portrayal (and wonder what he thinks about the post-Baker Doctors or the revival since 2005), but it’s funny how I don’t remember that happening. No riot precursors, no bloodthirsty attempted assaults. But I wasn’t everywhere or saw everything, so what do I know, right?
“This is the most colossal cosmic smash-up ever witnessed in the universe” says New Scientist:
A bundle of galaxies, nicknamed Pandora’s cluster, turns out to be the result of a violent crash between at least four separate galaxy clusters that lasted hundreds of millions of years…
The splattered remains suggest several galaxy clusters have collided over about 350 million years. Bright visible galaxies make up 5 per cent of the mass, while searingly hot gas that glows in X-rays makes up 20 per cent. The rest is dark matter, a mysterious invisible substance that gives itself away only because its gravity bends light from background galaxies.
“See there, wouldn’t want to be there,” says David Klaus:
It’s a rough clue to what we’re going to look like when Andromeda hits the Milky Way in about three billion years. Depending on where it is in its galactic orbit the Solar System will either be eaten by the giant multiple black hole as the galactic centers merge, or flung out of the galaxy completely.
That would be bad.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]
LASFS was the first science fiction club to own its own clubhouse and very likely the first to have a pay phone on its premises. The value of this may seem a little blurry in an era when so many people carry a personal phone. However, in the 1980s it was the club’s lifeline to the outside world.
The pay phone was useful in “emergencies” to call parents to pick up their teenagers, or take calls from club officers who at the last minute were going to miss the weekly meeting. And the LASFSians who answered incoming calls had their own freewheeling ideas about phone etiquette.
Let David Klaus tell you about his experience:
At LASFS I used to answer the club telephone by singing the initials to the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I did that once and the voice on the other end said “This is Robert Heinlein calling long-distance. May I please speak to Bruce Pelz?”
After a moment of panic at the thought of being lightning-struck for being smart-assed to GOD, I teleported around the clubhouse until I could find Bruce, usually a much easier task than it seemed in my franticness that night.
The European Space Agency’s simulated Mars mission made a successful landing, for certain values of successful, reports The Register:
Joyous news from the European Space Agency today, which reports that it has successfully landed three astronauts on Mars. Sadly this is only simulated Mars: the three spacesuited pioneers are at present exploring a large indoor sandpit, having spent the previous eight months inside a wood-panelled simulator pretending they were in transit to the red planet
An accompanying photo prompted this comment from David Klaus:
Even when you’ve already simulated the entire eight-month spaceflight to Mars, entry into the Martian atmosphere, and landing, it’s still kind of cheesy when you do your simulated EVA and flag-plant on a simulated Mars-scape, and through an open door in the simulated Martian horizon behind you there are a bunch of technicians, executives, and politicians in their shirtsleeves and business suits watching you.
It’s kind of seeing the “backstage” at The Truman Show.
WisCon’s parent organization SF3 announces it “has withdrawn the invitation to Elizabeth Moon to attend WisCon 35 as guest of honor.”
The opinions Moon expressed in her September 11 LiveJournal post about building a mosque near Ground Zero aroused widespread controversy (for analysis on The World SF Blog click here). In the wake of this reaction, SF3 passed a resolution October 3 recommending that the WisCon rescind Elizabeth Moon’s GoH invitation. However, several weeks passed before that action was taken.
The decision itself, naturally, has become the focus of another controversy.
David Klaus, a frequent contributor to the File 770 blog, feels it is an opportunity for dialog lost.
And Cheryl Morgan, in “Pressure Tells”, realizes the decision can be simultaneously seen as a victory and defeat for civic virtues:
So where are we? Have we found ourselves in a world of mob rule where anyone with a following on the Internet can hound innocent writers and convention committees into doing their bidding? Or have we found ourselves in a world in which the ignorant expression of hatred for people you have defined as different, and therefore inferior and immoral, has become socially unacceptable?
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]