Cyborg 2087

By Carl Slaughter: Terminator meets Star Trek meets Six Million Dollar Man meets Time Tunnel.

Our great grandchildren will have chips implanted in their brains.  From these chips, they will control everything from cars to doors to refrigerators to printers.

Computers, phones, and CDs will in museums, as will TVs and radios, because they will download, watch, listen, and communicate without the aid of any other device.

Many generations later, as their bodies adapt through evolution, our descendants will be born with slits to accommodate those chips (just as women will eventually be born without uteruses after babies are conceived and gestated in labs).  All manner of cottage industries will accompany this trend.

And all manner of dangers.  If someone can hack into your brain chip, they can theoretically control your brain, virtually enslaving you without you realizing it.

With that chilling prediction as an introduction, here is a review of Cyborg 2087:

Cyborg 2087 is a B science fiction movie [released in 1966] starring Michael Rennie of The Day the Earth Stood Still fame and Warren Stevens of Forbidden Planet fame.

A scientist develops radio telepathy technology that is later used to create a dystopia.  A cyborg with the resistance travels back in time to prevent the scientist from selling his invention to the Pentagon.

Two other cyborgs travel back in time to stop him.  Of course, there is a climactic battle of cyborg versus cyborg.

This was 30 years before the Borg, 20 years before Terminator, 10 years before The Six Million Dollar Man, and at the same time as the original Star Trek.

Plenty of science premise in movie and plenty of rehearsing the implications of science.  In classic touch, at the end of the story, the chief protagonist has to choose between love and destiny — sort of.

Trivia:  One of the characters is named Professor Sigmund Marx.  Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx?

Pixel Scroll 8/26/18 Pixels Of Unusual Size? I Don’t Think They Exist

(1) ALL SYSTEMS WIN. Martha Wells posted a Worldcon 76 report including her experiences at the Hugo Awards ceremony —

Then we got to novella, and I was extremely nervous. I felt like I had a strong chance and was hopeful, but it was still awesome to win. I managed to get up the stairs to the stage, give my speech without crying (After the Nebula Awards I didn’t want to be the author who cries all the time.) (I saved it all up for Monday, when every time anyone said anything nice to me, I would start crying.) Managed to get down the Stairs of Doom backstage with the help of about four people, got stopped to get a photo outside the auditorium in the reception area, went back in the wrong door and could not get it open and had to thump on it until the backstage people heard me, and then got back to my seat in time to see Nnedi Okorafor win for Best YA novel and N.K. Jemisin win for Best Novel!

And she has some Worldcon photos on her Tumblr.

(2) DIGBY IN ONE PLACE. The Golds reminded readers today about the extended electronic edition of Tom Digby’s amazing fanwriting that’s available online, “Along Fantasy Way”. Originally produced for the 1993 Worldcon where Tom was a guest of honor, the collection was expanded in its 2014 digital version. What a treasure trove of wonderfully creative idea-tripping. Delightful poetry, too – for example:

…OR MINERAL(2/07/76)

Pet rocks are OK, but some people prefer more variety.
The guy upstairs from me
Has a 1947 Chevrolet engine block.
I think his apartment is too small for it,
But there it is.
And the family down the street
With the goldfish pond in the yard
Has an old ship’s anchor
To keep the fish company.

But of all the inorganic pets in the neighborhood,
The happiest is an old beer can
Belonging to a small boy.
It would never win a prize at a show:
Too many dents
And spots of rust
And paint flaking off.
And besides, it’s a brand of beer
Most people don’t like.
But that doesn’t really matter.
What matters is FUN
Like afternoons when they go for a walk:
The can leaps joyously ahead
CLATTERDY RATTLEDY CLANG BANG!
Then lies quietly waiting for its master to catch up
Before leaping ahead again.
I may get a beer can myself some day.

But I still don’t think it’s right
To keep a 1947 Chevrolet engine block
Cooped up in such a small apartment.

The collection is illustrated by Phil and Kaja Foglio.

(3) ALL BRADBURY ALL THE TIME. A very nice set of Bradbury quotes at Blackwing666: “Ray Bradbury – Born August 22, 1920”

(4) GUNNED DOWN. You could see this coming. The Hollywood Reporter says “‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Production Put on Hold”. The studio still expects to make the movie later on.

Sources say that crewmembers, which is, at this stage, a small group that was prepping for preproduction, are being dismissed and are free to look for new work.

The Marvel project was originally to have been directed by James Gunn and was to have begun principal photography in the winter, either in January or February. The project was crewing up and was to have gone into full preproduction mode in the fall.

But Gunn was let go as the director in July when old tweets were resurfaced in response to his vocal political posts. While some held out hope that the director would be given a reprieve by Disney, a mid-August meeting with Disney chairman Alan Horn closed the door on that.

(5) LAST DAYS OF BANG ON EARTH. Big Bang Theory has started production of its final season.

Let What Culture tell you Why The Big Bang Theory Just Got Cancelled.

(6) HUGO STATISTIC. I don’t have time to check. Could be….

(7) HOW THEY STACK UP. Rocket Stack Rank’s Eric Wong writes:

With the recent release of the TOC for the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2018 (BASFF), I’ve updated RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F Anthologies article with the 20 stories in that anthology plus their honorable mentions.

The grand total from five 2017 “year’s best” SF/F anthologies is 114 stories by 91 authors, from which we can make the following observations:

o   Magazines: Asimov’s (12), Clarkesworld (9), Lightspeed (9)

o   Anthologies: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities (3/7), Extrasolar(5/14), Infinity Wars (5/15)

o   Nancy Kress (3), Rich Larson (3), Robert Reed (3), Alastair Reynolds(3)

To see other outstanding stories that didn’t make it into the five “year’s best” SF/F anthologies, go to RSR’s 2017 Best SF/F article, which has also been updated with the BASFF stories for a total of 256 stories by 201 authors.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 26, 1953The War of the Worlds premiered. (“Welcome to California!”)

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge]

  • Born August 26 — Katherine Johnson, 100. NASA mathematician and physicist awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama in 2015. Her work made space travel possible. And yes she’s African-American as well! (Makers has a post celebrating her birthday.)
  • Born August 26 — Barbara Ehrenreich, 77. Social activist and author of one genre novel, Kipper’s Game which gets compared to the works of Connie Willis.
  • Born August 26 — Stephen Fry, 61. Narrator, all of the Harry Potter audiobook recordings, Col. K. In the animated Dangermouse series and any number of other delightfully interesting genre related undertakings.
  • Born August 26 — Wanda De Jesus, 60. Genre work includes Robocop 2, SeaQuest 2032, Tales from The DarksideBabylon 5, and Ghosts of Mars
  • Born August 26 — Melissa McCarthy, 48. Now starring in The Happytime Murders which apparently is the first film from the adult division of Jim Henson Productions. Also Ghostbusters: Answer the Call.
  • Born August 26 — Chris Pine, 38. James T. Kirk in the current Trek film franchise; also Steve Trevor in the Wonder Woman film franchise as well as A Wrinkle in Time and Rise Of The Guardians.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Brevity shows some movie dinosaurs who keep comic back.

(11) SPACE ANNIVERSARY. JPL celebrates “15 Years in Space for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope”, an instrument that has far outlasted its predicted useful life.

Launched into a solar orbit on Aug. 25, 2003, Spitzer was the final of NASA’s four Great Observatories to reach space. The space telescope has illuminated some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, revealed a new ring around Saturn, and peered through shrouds of dust to study newborn stars and black holes. Spitzer assisted in the discovery of planets beyond our solar system, including the detection of seven Earth-size planets orbiting the star TRAPPIST-1, among other accomplishments.

 

(12) OH NO, WHERE CAN THE MATTER BE. Gizmodo reports “Scientists Will Soon Drop Antimatter to See How It Behaves in Gravity”.

In a new study, physicists attempted to find differences between matter and antimatter—confusingly, also a kind of matter, but with the opposite charge and other differences. It’s like an evil twin. Confusingly, the universe has way more matter than antimatter, for no clear reason. Physicists haven’t found the specific differences they were looking for when studying the antimatter version of hydrogen, called antihydrogen, but they have demonstrated a way to study antimatter better than ever before.

Mike Kennedy forwarded the link with the note, “It’s a complicated story, and mostly about recent measurements of the Lyman-? emission lines of anti-hydrogen… in particular it being the same wavelength as for hydrogen <http://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0435-1>. The bit about laser cooling anti-hydrogen and dropping it to observe how it reacts to gravity is IIUC speculative at this point.”

(13) MORE ON NEXT SHATNER RECORD. SYFY Wire brings us news that William Shatner is releasing a holiday album (“William Shatner teases Christmas cover record: Shatner Claus”):

Set phasers to jolly.

The legendary actor and musician William Shatner is giving us another reason to be excited about the holiday season. Shatner tweeted the Amazon link to pre-order his first upcoming record: Shatner Claus The Christmas Album. You can add the self-described godfather of dramatic musical interpretation’s album digital audio, CD, or vinyl in your letter to the North Pole. With vinyl record sales on the constant rise, it’s exciting to see if this will find Shatner Claus’ sleigh riding its way to the top of the Billboard charts.

(14) JURASSIC BLETCHLEY PARK. In “Dinosaur DNA clues unpicked by researchers at University of Kent”, scientists are theorizing-from-clues that dinosaur DNA, like birds’, had many chromosomes, making mix-and-match easier.

Researchers at the University of Kent say their work uncovers the genetic secret behind why dinosaurs came in such a variety of shapes and sizes.

This variation helped the creatures evolve quickly in response to a changing environment – helping them to dominate Earth for 180 million years.

But the researchers behind the DNA work say they have no plans to recreate dinosaurs, Jurassic Park style.

(15) FLAME OFF. BBC assures us, “Yes, Antarctica has a fire department”.

But fighting fires in freezing temperatures also calls for some specialist equipment.

Surprisingly, water is still an option. McMurdo’s fire engine has a pump, which cycles water constantly through the vehicle to prevent it from freezing.

Remembering to set the pump going is, says Branson, a lesson quickly learned.

“You do not want to be the person who freezes all the water in the fire engine. Then you’re stuck with a 500 gallon engine with an ice block in it… and nobody on base is going to like you.”

(16) BEARLY VISIBLE. BBC has video: “Bear roams ‘The Shining’ hotel in Colorado”. It’s a good thing Jack Nicholson didn’t try swinging an axe at this guest….

A bear was filmed going through the lobby of the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s classic horror novel in Colorado.

(17) YOUR MILEAGE MAY VARY. While excavating on YouTube, Carl Slaughter found Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965): “Frankenstein, ie, Frank the android, does battle with a Martian beast to prevent a Martian princess from replenishing Mars with voluptuous and sometimes bikini-clad Earth women.  The Pentagon monitors the situation and tries to lend Frank a hand.  Turns out Frank wears an Air Force uniform and holds military rank  – like Data.  This is in the so bad it’s good category.”

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Forgotten Sci-Fi Films

By Carl Slaughter: Them! is a forgotten classic science fiction movie.  Despite a premise involving ants mutated into giants and spreading rapidly, this is not a typical creature feature.  The insects make few appearances and are on screen briefly.  Killings mostly occur off screen, happen quickly when they are shown, and don’t involve gore.  No, this is a true science fiction story.  Part detective, part exploration, part hunt.  The scientists provide scientific background through interaction with military and law enforcement personnel during strategy sessions and battles rather than resorting to info dumps.  The New York Times called it “taut science fiction.”  Variety called it a “top notch science fiction thriller.”  The closing line is, “When Man entered the Atomic Age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.”  Rotten Tomatoes approval ratings is 100%.  Nominated for an Oscar for special effects.

The Thing from Another World is another forgotten science fiction movie.  Based on “Who Goes There?,” a novella by John Campbell.  Scientists and soldiers discover a crashed alien with hostile intent and learn the hard way how intelligent, strong, and adaptive he is.  Turns out the alien is vegetable based and carnivorous, feeding on blood.  After several misfires, a few casualties, a failed attempt to establish a relationship, severe damage to the station, and numerous science-military agenda disputes, they finally outsmart him.  The alien shows himself to the crew only twice and briefly both times.  Instead, they have to follow his trail of activity.  Ends with, “Tell the world. Tell this to everybody, wherever they are. Watch the skies everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies.”  Beat all other science fiction films at the box office, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers and When Worlds Collide.  Lester del Rey described it as “just another monster epic, totally lacking in the force and tension of the original story.”  Time Magazine chose it as the best sci-fi film of the 50s.  Dialog is rapid and crisp, so you might even want to watch a subtitled version.

The Thing is a remake of The Thing from Another World.  This screen version is closer to the print version.  After the success of Alien, Universal executives were convinced commissioning The Thing was a good call.  They miscalculated.  Alas, John Carpenter couldn’t compete with Steven Spielberg.

Gruff explorers couldn’t compete with the adorable E.T.  The hideous metamorphosis of the shape shifter couldn’t compete with phoning home.  Suspicion and paranoia over which member of the team is a camouflaged invader couldn’t compete with children bonding with each other and their alien friend.  The destruction of the outpost couldn’t compete with a bicycle flying in front of the moon.  The harsh landscape of Antarctica couldn’t compete with sunny suburbia.  Body count horror couldn’t compete with a main character being rescued from death.  Lack of female characters couldn’t compete with young Drew Barrymore.  Channeling Lovecraft couldn’t compete with channeling Capra.  R-rating couldn’t compete with family friendly viewing.  Nihilistic couldn’t compete with upbeat.  An ending left open about the survival of Kurt Russell’s character couldn’t compete with an ending in which everyone lives happily ever after.

If all this wasn’t enough, 1982 was a year cluttered with speculative fiction, including Poltergeist, Wrath of Khan, Tron, Conan the Barbarian, Blade Runner, and Road Warrior.

The fallout for Carpenter was severe.  Universal bought out his contract, thus he lost a chance to direct Firestarter.  The Thing was panned by critics, but has since been rehabilitated and has gained a cult following.

Fan Art Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: Click through to see the images.

Venom is returning to the big screen for the first time in 11 years this October, when Sony unveils their solo movie based on the antihero starring Tom Hardy as the symbiote-stricken Eddie Brock. While that’s cause to celebrate, unfortunately it doesn’t look like we’ll see Venom face off against his nemesis any time soon, due to Spider-Man having returned to the arms of Marvel Studios.

However, there’s nothing stopping fans from whipping up some inspired artwork which gives us an idea as to what a battle between Tom Hardy’s Venom and Tom Holland’s Spidey could look like. Case in point: this new piece seen in the gallery down below, which paints a picture of the villain totally besting the wall-crawler in a fight. As you can see, Peter Parker lies senseless in a pile of rubble while his enemy cuts a sinister figure as he lingers over him.

Twitter user UberKryptonian recently had a minute to kill and decided to spend those waning seconds creating a Fantastic Four character poster, in which he envisioned none other than Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic himself, Reed Richards. You can check out the clever bit of fan casting below, which follows on from several other pieces put forth by various different artists (also included in the gallery).

Coming from digital artist ultraraw26 on Instagram is a mock-up poster for Avengers 4 imagining what a team-up between Iron Man and Carol Danvers might look like. Considering the Q-Ship in the background, not to mention both heroes appear to be in outer space, it looks like the battle is set on Titan, Thanos’ home-planet. Interestingly, however, the Mad Titan cannot be seen in the frame, nonetheless, the prospect of seeing the aforementioned heroes banding together to fight a common foe is exciting for fans. Check it out below:

The urban legend of Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League grows even bigger today with yet another string of previously unseen concept art. Featured in the gallery down below, it depicts the could-have-been third act of Snyder’s version of the movie, and from what we can see here, he apparently planned for an epic, sky-based skirmish, a more Kirby-esque Steppenwolf, a larger role for Aquaman and, of course, a darker color palate than what we got in theaters.

The photos themselves are impressive and will certainly embolden fans who’ve been rallying for an official release of Synder’s version of the film.

Video Essay Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: That video essay contrasting Thanos in the comics with Thanos in the movies veered off into a contrast between Iron Man and Captain America.  Iron Man is a rationalist, trying to outmaneuver Thanos; Captain America is a romanticist, trying to overwhelm Thanos with raw power and courage; just as comic book Thano is a romanticist, trying to impress the woman he’s wooing, and movie Thanos is a rationalist, trying to solve an overpopulation problem.

Dave Cullen has some good insight into the betrayal of Star Trek main characters in J.J. Abrams films.  Abrams portrays Kirk as debonair, promiscuous, and crafty.  So I thought he nailed that character.  But Abrams also portrays Kirk as reckless and full of self-doubt.  Such a portrayal betrays the Kirk character as a natural-born leader.  Abrams portrays Spock as stoic, logical, and stern.  So, again, I though he nailed the character.  But Abrams also portrays Spock as given to emotional and violent outbursts.  The Roddenberry Spock struggles to control his human side.  The Abrams Spock is borderline psychotic.  The Roddenberry Spock makes an effort to understand people whose actions he disproves of.  The Abrams Spock just reacts to people.

Takes this reviewer a while to get around to it, but he finally points out that the sequels shift from exploration of dinos to hunt/exploit dinos.  Also, interesting trivia, the author of the novel sold the rights to the unfinished manuscript to the studio for 7 digits on Spielberg’s endorsement.