(1) If film criticism ever becomes a duel to the death, people will say, never bet against David Gerrold when cinematic science fiction is on the line…. See his new review on Facebook.
All right, so let’s talk about SNOWPIERCER, a brilliantly produced movie that ultimately fails in the two most important ways a science fiction film can fail.
I’ll take the easy one first — the audience will suspend disbelief, they will not suspend common sense.
The idea here is that the Earth has frozen over. The only survivors are living on a train that circles the globe endlessly.
1) The Earth is frozen over because scientists have decided to put something called CW7 in the atmosphere to halt global warming. They do it with chem trails. It works too well. The planet gets too cold, everything freezes down so cold you’ll freeze to death in minutes.
Now, look — whatever that CW7 stuff is — you’re gonna have to put several million tons of it into the atmosphere to cools down the planet. That’s a lot of chem trails. It’s going to take a long time. Years. Decades perhaps. Even if you could retro-fit every jet plane in the world on its next scheduled maintenance, it would still take millions of miles. And you would think that as soon as the temperature gradients start falling too fast, not matching the projections, the scientists — or whatever agency behind it — would stop the process to evaluate the results. But no — whatever this CW7 is … bam, it freezes everything to a giant planet-sized popsicle.
2) Where did all that water come from? Even in this planet’s worst ice ages, there wasn’t enough H2o to make enough snow to cover every continent. ….
Unfortunately … even as an ALLEGORY this thing doesn’t work.
That’s the second and much bigger failure…..
(2) A killer review like that leads indirectly to the sentiment expressed in “Why Peter Capaldi Said No To Extra Doctor Who”.
It seems like eons pass in between series of Doctor Who. As with many shows which only run 10 or so episodes in a season, they’re over so quickly, and then there’s another year or more of wait before the show comes back. It turns out that the BBC would love to see more Doctor Who as much as fans would. However, the cast and crew, led by Peter Capaldi himself, have said no to requests for more episodes. The reason, according to Capaldi, is that while they could make more episodes, what they couldn’t do is make more good episodes.
(3) David Brin turns his thoughts to “Sentient animals, machines… and even plants!” at Contrary Brin.
In Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso and journalist, Alessandra Viola, make a case not only for plant sentience, but also plant rights. Interesting, though science fiction authors have been doing thought experiments about this for a long time, e.g. in Ursula LeGuin’s novel “The Word for World is Forest” and in my own “The Uplift War.” Jack Chalker’s “Midnight at the Well of Souls” portrayed sentient plants, as did Lord of the Rings.
There is a level where I am all aboard with this. Ecosystems are webs of health that combine fiercely interdependent predation/competition with meshlike interchanges of sight/sound/chemicals that clearly manifest types of cooperation, even communication…. as I elucidated in “EARTH.”
On the other hand, I also step back to see the qualities of this book that transcend its actual contents, for it fits perfectly into the process of “horizon expansion” that I describe elsewhere. A process of vigorously, righteously, even aggressively increasing the scope of inclusion, extending the circle of protection to the next level, and then the next. See also this Smithsonian talk I gave about the never-ending search for “otherness.”
(4) And look for Brin to be in residence at Bard College in October.
David Brin, a scientist, a science fiction author and a commentator on the world’s most pressing technological trends, is in residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College from Oct. 5 to Oct. 25.
As part of Brin’s fellowship, he will mentor selected Bard students on their fiction and nonfiction writing. He will also offer a number of lectures and discussions. On Sept. 30, at 11:30 a.m., Brin will talk with Hannah Arendt Center Academic Director Roger Berkowitz and “Roundtable” host Joe Donahue on WAMC radio.
On Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. in Reem-Kayden Center 103, Brin will speak about his book, “The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose between Privacy and Freedom?,” with Berkowitz. On Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Bertelsmann Campus Center’s Multipurpose Room, he will attend a debate on “National Security is More Important than the Individual Right to Privacy.”
Bard College is located in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.
(5) Cheryl Morgan advises on “Writing Better Trans Characters” at Strange Horizons.
Trans people are a big thing these days in equality circles. People are asking what they can do to help the trans cause. Quite simply, the most important thing cis people can do for the trans community right now is to accept us as fully human; not as something to be gawped at and whispered over, not as a clever metaphor with which to discuss gender, but as ordinary people just like you. For cis writers, that means putting us in their stories.
I reject the idea that trans characters should only be written by trans people because cis folk are bound to get it wrong. While there are some really fine trans writers, there simply aren’t enough of us in the world to do what is needed. We have to be part of all fiction, not just fiction that we write ourselves.
(6) Kim Stanley Robinson defended his notion of future technology in Aurora as part of an article about science fiction realism for the Guardian.
Robinson makes no apology for the 21st-century tech of his 26th-century explorers, arguing that progress in science and technology will asymptotically approach “limits we can’t get past”.
“It’s always wrong to extrapolate by straightforwardly following a curve up,” he explains, “because it tends off towards infinity and physical impossibility. So it’s much better to use the logistic curve, which is basically an S curve.”
Like the adoption of mobile phones, or rabbit populations on an island, things tend to start slowly, work up a head of steam and then reach some kind of saturation point, a natural limit to the system. According to Robinson, science and technology themselves are no exception, making this gradual increase and decrease in the speed of change the “likeliest way to predict the future”.
(7) Les Johnson’s guest post about putting together a mission to Mars on According To Hoyt suits the current Mars-centric news cycle very well.
Since I work for NASA and have looked extensively at the technologies required to send people to Mars, I am often asked how close we are to being able to take such a journey. [DISCLAIMER: The very fact that I work for NASA requires me to say that “the opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.”] Basing my opinion solely on information that is publicly available, the answer is… not straightforward. Let me break it into the three areas that Project Managers and Decision Makers (the ones with the money) use when they assess the viability of a project in an attempt to explain my answer.
(8) MARK YOUR CALENDAR: April 3, 2016 will be the next Vintage Paperback Show in Glendale, CA at the Glendale Civic Auditorium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. STILL $5.00
(9) Editors Eugene Johnson and Charles Day have started an Indiegogo appeal to fund their Drive-In Creature Feature anthology from Evil Jester Press.
Get in line. Buy a ticket, and take a trip to the DRIVE-IN CREATURE FEATURE. Where the monsters from the classic films from the 1950’s to 1980’s shined on the large iconic sliver screens. Where the struggle between human and monsters came alive for the fate of the world. Monsters created from an experiment gone wrong, legendary beasts long asleep, now awaken by melting humans, visitors from a far off world that aren’t as friendly as they appear. Monsters like giant parasitic bugs and ancient sea beasts on the prowl. A mysterious plague turning the homeless population into Moss people. A government sponsored monster goes toe-to-toe with a monster of Celtic myth. and many more are included.
Intriguing tales by some of the best names in horror, including New York Times Best selling authors and comic book writers, Jonathan Maberry, S.G. Browne, Elizabeth Massie, Ronald Kelly, William, F. Nolan, Lisa Morton, Joe McKinney, Jason V. Brock, Weston Ochese , Yvonne Navarro, including cover art by Cortney Skinner…
During the months of September and October, Alamo Drafthouse locations nationwide will host THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES Feast, featuring a screening of the Vincent Price classic paired with a delectable multi-course feast using recipes from the book. Topping each evening off, Victoria Price – daughter of Vincent and Mary – will be in person sharing memories of her father before the film with her multi-media presentation “Explore, Savor, Celebrate: Life with Vincent Price.”…
In 1965, Mary and Vincent Price published A Treasury of Great Recipes — now regarded as the one of the world’s most beloved cookbooks. The book features recipes collected by Vincent and Mary at restaurants around the world, including original menus from classic restaurants and photographs by the great William Claxton. It has come to be regarded as “one of the most important culinary events of the 20th century” (Saveur Magazine) and was recently named the eighth most popular out-of-print book of any kind by Booklist. The 50th anniversary edition incorporates the original edition, unchanged and in its entirety, along with a new Foreword from Wolfgang Puck and A Retrospective Preface from Victoria.
Here are links to the rest of the schedule — San Antonio, TX – 9/28, Austin, TX – 9/29, Richardson, TX – 9/30, Kalamazoo, MI – 10/6, Kansas City, MO – 10/7, Littleton, CO – 10/14, Ashburn, VA – 10/20, Winchester, VA – 10/22, Yonkers, NY – 10/26.
(11) Vox Popoli has posted a political cartoon by Red Meat and Vox Day about the nonrelease of 2015 Hugo nominating data, “Cabal? What Cabal?”
(12) Dave Freer has an axiom about who it’s important for a writer to please in a post at Mad Genius Club.
That is something that many authors fail to grasp – and not just new ones. I recently read a diatribe by Adam Troy Castro – who missed this completely (He was attacking John Wright, who seems to be engaging his readers… who aren’t part of his publisher’s tribe). I quote: “has been abusing his publisher in public and attacking his editors as people” which is a bad thing, according to Castro “being an asshole to the people who give you money is not a good career move.”
The latter part of that is certainly true. What Castro seems to have failed to figure out is that the money doesn’t actually come from the publisher. It comes from readers – the subset of the public who love your work. If you abuse them, you’re dead. If your publisher abuses them (which is a fair assessment)… lose your publisher. Reassure your readers that this is not your attitude.
(13) Myke Cole, in “You are not crying in the wilderness”, tells why he writes.
Here’s the thing about writing: It’s really hard. It’s a LOT of work. You do most of this work alone and then you send it away and you have absolutely no idea whether it’s reaching anyone or not, how it’s being received, whether or not it means to others what it means to you. I have said before that I am no Emily Dickenson. I write to communicate, to receive a signal back from the array I am constantly sending out in the world.
I write to not be alone.
(14) Alex Pappademas shreds the new Muppets series in “A Rainbow Rejection” at Grantland.
The most fanciful thing about ABC’s muppetational but seldom celebrational The Muppets is that the late-night talk show behind whose scenes it takes place has a female host. In this regard, I support its vision. I support nothing else about The Muppets except the pilot’s use of the great Jere Burns, drier than a silica gel packet as always, in a B-plot in which he refuses to accept his daughter’s interspecies relationship with Fozzie Bear. His issue seems to be more about Fozzie being a bear than being a Muppet — at dinner, he makes snide comments when Fozzie compliments the salmon — but in a broad-stroke sense, I am with Burns on this one. I guess I’ve found the one marriage-equality hypothetical on which I’m a fuming mossback conservative: Turns out I am opposed to the sexualization of the Muppets and therefore to the implication that humans and Muppets1 can or should miscegenate.
This puts me roughly on the same team as the fainting-couch wearer-outers at the Donald Wildmon front group One Million Moms, who took a break from their courageous war on homofascist breakfast cereal and sinfully delicious lesbian yogurt on Monday to declare a fatwa on the new Muppets as “perverted” based solely on the ads — particularly the one that promises “full frontal nudity” and features Kermit the Frog in a casual locker-room pose. A clock that stopped in 1955 and should be thrown in the garbage because it’s an insanely and attention-hungrily homophobic clock is still right twice a day: There is nothing good about this ad, and perhaps you should not be in the Muppet-selling business if you can’t sell the Muppets in 2015 without adding the implication that Kermit fucks, let alone that Miss Piggy wants to fuck Nathan Fillion.
(15) Marc Scott Zicree has posted a new Mr. Sci-Fi video about the Profiles in History room at Monsterpalooza that showed items from his collection that will be going up for auction tomorrow.
(16) The Mets, one day after clinching the National League East, had their rookies take the super hero “hazing” to another level… Or, rather, they removed another level…
[Thanks to James H. Burns, Andrew Porter, the other Mark, SF Site News, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kendall.]