Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.
(1) Did you know R2-D2 appeared in Star Trek: Into Darkness? For about a split second. And other films, too – even Raiders of the Lost Ark! See the screen caps here.
Stemming from a hidden message in the Atari video game Adventure, the term “Easter egg” in media now refers to a concealed joke or message in a game, TV show, or movie. As with any good Easter egg hunt, these hidden treasures are tough to find.
(2) King of Thrones, a six-part series about expensive bathroom makeovers, launched September 10 on Discovery’s “Destination America” channel.
Preparations are underway should “Thrones” reign. “A lot of folks in the retail space, home improvement departments stores are very interested in it. A lot of other bathroom products are interested in it,” Hahn said. All that remains to be seen is whether “King of Thrones” proves successful with viewers or gets flushed away if it stinks up the joint.
And if they announce a “Blackwater” episode, look out.
(3) Are you absolutely sure you know those famous sf and fantasy movie quotes as well as you suppose?
So many fans, even those who’ve seen “The Empire Strikes Back” innumerable times, get that line wrong. It’s just so much fun to coo “Luuuuuuke” before launching in to the dramatic revelation. And it sounds dumb to just say “I am your father,” but if you sneak the “Luke” in, everyone knows you’re quoting the second “Star Wars” movie, and the joke works as well as a repeated-to-the-point-of-nausea line from a 35-year-old movie can.
(4) Here’s a link to a collection of stunning paintings by Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag:
Welcome to rural Sweden, sometime in the late ’80s. Citizens go about their mundane lives and children explore the countryside. But something isn’t quite right. Robots and hovercrafts are commonplace, and decaying science facilities sprout from the harsh Scandinavian landscape. There’s even a rumor circulating that dinosaurs have returned from the dead after some failed experiment.
This is the world that exists in artist Simon Stålenhag’s mind, and it’s only accessible through his paintings. The alternate universe he’s created is inspired by the sci-fi movies he watched as a kid growing up in the rural areas around Stockholm. As he explains to The Verge, “The only difference in the world of my art and our world is that … ever since the early 20th century, attitudes and budgets were much more in favor of science and technology.”
(5) European researchers are developing exosekeltons for factory workers —
The goal of the Robo-mate project, with $6 million in EU funding, is a machine that could reduce the number of workplace injuries, researchers said.
Twelve research institutions are taking part in the quest for a wearable robot suit that will help human workers take on manufacturing tasks that, because of the complexity of the choices involved, are difficult to fully automate.
If the model in this article had a helmet, you could easily see it evolving someday into the gear worn by Star Wars’ Storm Troopers.
(6) Who keeps Big Bang Theory’s science humor on track? Eric Kaplan, one of the show’s executive producers and script writers, answered that question for the New York Times:
Your stories have a lot of insider jokes; there was a hilarious episode that included references to Schrödinger’s cat. How does your team know what’s funny in science?
I went to grad school in analytic philosophy, which is culturally very much like science. We talk to our science adviser, David Saltzberg, a physics professor at U.C.L.A. We visit various schools and labs.
Once we went to the control station for the Mars rover. That was the source of a number of stories for Howard.
We talked with a NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino. He told us about his Italian relatives who were unimpressed that he’d gone into space. There was one relative who was, “We usually make the new guy clean the garbage truck. You shouldn’t have to go out to the space station if you’re the senior guy.” So that became the story line for Howard. He goes into space, and no one in his daily life is impressed.
(7) Those of you who like to hum “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” will want to look over Abebooks selection of post-apocalyptic-fiction, and read the introduction by Richard Davies –
The method of worldwide destruction varies. Readers could encounter a plague, global nuclear war, biological weaponry, a comet collision, or a blinding meteor shower followed by flesh-eating plants. Many authors don’t explain in detail the nature of their book’s catastrophe but, in many ways, it’s unimportant – the thoughts and actions of the survivors are what counts.
(8) In the middle of ESPN’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column Gregg Easterbrook inexplicably veered into a lengthy critique of NASA of which this is only the beginning —
What’s up in outer space? Not as much as expected. In the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” by the year 2001, there are colonies on the moon, commercial flights to orbit, and NASA has built a giant ship bearing a crew to Jupiter. In this spring’s Tom Cruise flick “Oblivion,” by 2017, NASA has built a giant ship bearing a crew even farther, to Saturn. Nothing remotely like this is on anyone’s drawing board, let alone funded.
The space station continues to circle the globe, accomplishing — ahem, we’ll have to get back to you on that. This most expensive boondoggle ever is now serviced by Russian rockets at American expense.
And he goes on.
(9) Could he have been channeling former Apollo flight director Chris Kraft? Kraft cut loose with his own complaints in this interview by the Houston Chronicle:
I talked to Neil Armstrong an awful lot near the end of this life. Too bad he’s gone, because he was an important spokesman for being adverse to what the political part of NASA says we’re going to do. Bolden, let’s face it, he doesn’t know what it takes to do a major project. He doesn’t have experience with that. He’s a flier, a Marine general. He’s never known what it takes to do a massive program. He keeps talking about going to Mars in the 2030s, but that’s pure, unadulterated, BS. And what have you got if you get there? Who wants to operate something that’s 40 minutes, by voice, from the Earth. Why would you want to do that? As an operator, damned if I like that. If I’m on the moon, I’ve got a 3 second turnaround. Everything I go to do on Mars I’ve got to prepare to do in an automatic mode. That’s not very smart. Pretty much everything we need to do on Mars can be done robotically. We’ve already got robots there. By the time we get the capability to send humans to Mars, it might be that robots are smarter than humans anyway. I’m serious.
(10) One of many differences between Worldcon and Burning Man —
There was a rumor that if you safely parachuted in, you didn’t have to pay for a ticket. I also heard that not only was that not true, once they land there’s a mad dash to take off the parachute and run away before getting caught.
(11) Here is the Marty Gear tribute video shown at LoneStarCon 3.
[Thanks for these stories goes out to John King Tarpinian, James H. Burns, Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter.]