Sci-Fi Video Roundup 12/8/18

Compiled by Carl Slaughter: Most of these selected videos are from Pop Culture Detective.

FANTASTIC BEASTS.  The New York Post, the New Republic, The Village Voice, Slate, and MTV expressed disappointment with the main character in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Pop Culture Detective is disappointed with their disappointment.  Obviously they were looking for a Hero’s Journey type protagonist.  Newt Scamander is not a typical Hollywood hero.  He is not The Chosen One.  He is a bit autistic and a bit misanthropic.  He dreams of writing a zoology book, not going on an adventure.  His is a nurturing masculinity, not a daring masculinity.  His is a quiet genius, not a brash genius.  His strength is empathy, not aggressiveness.  Newt is trying to save the monster, not slay it.  Newt Scamander did not draw the crowds like Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Tony Stark, and so on.  Will the studios resist the temptation to introduce and emphasize alternate characters in the rest of the 5-part series?

THE EMPIRE. For the vast majority of residents of the Star Wars galaxy, daily life is unaffected by the Sith, the Jedi, and the Rebellion/Resistance.  But what about life under the rule of the Empire?  What exactly makes the Empire evil?  What exactly are Emperor Palpatine’s policies and practices that Princess Leia finds so odious, besides destroying her home planet?  Disbanding the Senate?  Executing child Jedi?  Martial law? Excessive commercial regulation that results in the black markets and smuggling and gangs that receive so much attention in the series?  Commandeering natural resource to supply such a massive military force?  Drafting children into military service to fight and oppress and die for the empire?  Princess Padme sums it up:  “So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”  The Empire is a terrible place to live because its citizens’ individual freedom has been suppressed in the name of maintaining galactic order.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: VIDEO GAMES. Pop Culture Detective laments the fact that 93% of video games are combat, sports, or racing.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: THE JEDI. Pop Culture Detective theorizes that fan anger at Last Jedi is rooted in dashed expectations of male heroes who are challenged and changed by female heroes.  The Jedi represent Stoic masculinity.  As Anakin Skywalker discovered, suppressing emotions can be toxic.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: HARRISON FORD MOVIES. Harrison Ford’s most iconic roles are sci fi/fantasy.  Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Rick Deckard.  Pop Culture Detective breaks down romance and sex scenes of these characters and draws some disturbing conclusions about the messages they send.

POP CULTURE DETECTIVE: RECRUITMENT. Watch the Independence Day sequel  –  and join the Army.

The Yesterday’s Kin Trilogy: An Interview with Nancy Kress

By Carl Slaughter: Nancy Kress likes to write about hard science.  Especially biotech.  She likes to write about alien contact.  She tends to populate her stories with scientists.  Her recently completed Kin trilogy is a multi-generational first contact pandemic story. The third novel in the trilogy, Terran Tomorrow, was published November 13 by Tor Books.

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Where did you get the idea for the science premise?

Nancy Kress

NANCY KRESS:  The trilogy revolves around microbes, especially pathogens that cause epidemics of various kinds.  Medicine has made good strides against bacteria-caused epidemics, but bacteria mutate, swap genes, and develop antibiotic resistance so fast that sometimes our drugs and vaccines aren’t effective (witness the hit-or-miss gamble with flu shots every year).  And we really can’t handle viral epidemics except by containment (witness Ebola, until recently).  Humanity is overdue for a major pandemic.  These ideas fascinate and scare me.  Fear is good for plotting.

CS: Same question for the plot.

NK: Science is only compelling to most readers if it happens to people.  So in the trilogy, a variety of characters cope with a pandemic on two planets: a geneticist, an Army Ranger, two brothers with vastly different ideas on how to live on a devastated Earth, aliens who are not what they seem, a man more at home in the alien culture than in his own.  These people fight, love, cope, strive.  For me, plot always grows out of character.

CS: Are the main characters throughout the trilogy or a different set of characters for each story?

NK: Both.  Geneticist Marianne Jenner, her children, and ultimately her grandchildren, are the common thread through all three books.  Other major characters appear in just one book: Ranger Leo Brodie,  physician Lindy Ross, the alien woman who adopts the name Jane.

CS: Are the main characters scientists, soldiers, journalists, linguists, professors, politicians?

NK: All of the above!  A large-scale space opera involves everybody.  There is, however, a preponderance of scientists and, in If Tomorrow Comes (book 2), soldiers.

CS: Do you reveal the plot through the characters or vice versus?  My personal preference is vice versa.

NK: This question doesn’t actually make sense to me, since plot and character are intimately connected.  A plot event occurs, and a character shows their personal qualities by how they react.  A character’s actions generate more plot.  It goes back and forth, or occurs at the same time.  There is, however, an inciting plot incident that starts everything going.  In the first book of the trilogy, If Tomorrow Comes, it is the appearance on Earth of aliens with a dire warning for our planet.

CS: Is this one of those ‘the human race might get wiped out’ plots or one of those ‘the human race will definitely go through fundamental change’ plots?

NK: The human race will definitely go through fundamental changes.  I once wrote a novel in which the entire human race gets wiped out (Nothing Human) and it was not a success, although I liked it.  But in this trilogy, there are gallant, resourceful, and hopeful survivors making new societies on two worlds.

CS: What are the recurring themes?

NK: Survival.  Difficult moral choices.  The power of persistence.  The need to connect with others—alien and human.  That faced with crisis, different people will react in far different ways.  Humanity is not a monolith.

CS: Are they the same themes in your other stories?

NK: Yes, I think so.

CS: I haven’t read all of your stories, but enough to know that a large number of them involve alien cultures, hard science, or both.  I’m guessing that’s not a coincidence.

NK: No, not a coincidence.  Writing about aliens is a way of making characters confront the alien in others—and in themselves.  Xenophobia is hard-wired into our genes: “That stranger from another tribe might be dangerous!”  Civilization depends on overcoming xenophobia and cooperating.  Civilization is fragile, and fragile situations make for good narratives.  In addition, our current civilization depends on science: computers, cars, medicine, heating and cooling, advanced manufacturing techniques and tools, agribusinesses.  The most intimate science is biotechnology, affecting and altering our own bodies, as well as crops and animals and the environment.  Much of my fiction concerns genetic engineering.  This is the future.

CS: What stories are in the works?

NK: I am working on a long novella that—contrary to everything I just said!—is not about biotech.  Rather, it’s about growing automation of our businesses that result in massive unemployment and the changes to society that will bring.

CS: What’s going on on the workshop front?

NK: I am delighted that you asked!  Taos Toolbox opened for submissions December 1.  Toolbox is an intensive, two-week, Clarion-style workshop that Walter Jon Williams and I teach every year in New Mexico.  Guest lecturers include George R.R. Martin.  This year’s dates are July 7-20.  More information is available at www.taostoolbox.com

CS: Where can fans catch up with you for an autograph/photo?

NK: I am Guest of Honor at a small local con in Seattle, Foolscap (www.foolscap.org).  I will be going to Dublin for Worldcon in August.  Between those two events, I’m not sure.  My husband and I are buying a house and moving—time-consuming if exhilarating events.  Real life goes on next to science fiction life—although sometimes, of course, they blend.  Maybe all the time they blend.  Maybe aliens will inhabit my house.  Certainly microbes will.  Maybe…

Enough.  Stop.  Thank you for the interview, Carl.

Nancy Kress at Capclave 2018

Interview with Rowankind Trilogy Author Jacey Bedford

CARL SLAUGHTER:  Let’s start with the main characters.  At the beginning of the story, Ross is just trying to stay off the Mysterium’s radar.  Then she goes on various quests.  Then she plays liberator, protector, and negotiator.  Has she got a plan or is she figuring it out as she goes?

JACEY BEDFORD:  She’s figuring it out as she goes at the beginning of Winterwood. She doesn’t really want anything to do with the mysterious magical box, and, indeed, she tries to throw it overboard, but it washes up on the next tide. She’s been able to stay off the Mysterium’s radar while she’s been at sea. They don’t have much authority outside the British Isles, but as soon as she steps back on British soil they become a tangible problem. Once she learns what the box is and what it contains she has to decide whether to follow through. She does, and it seems as though everything is rosy, until (at the start of the second book) there are repercussions. She’s scrambling once more, but each time she’s faced with a problem she grows to meet it (with Corwen, of course). Ditto with the third book, when all the problems come together.

What about Corwen.  Does he have a drastic effect on Ross and a drastic effect on the plot or is he a secondary to Ross?

Ross doesn’t meet Corwen until part way through the first book. She’s not looking for love. She has the ghost of Will, her dead husband, for company. Initially she resists trusting Corwen, which makes him secondary, but gradually she comes to see his worth and his support is vital. By the time the second and third books happen, Corwen is an equal partner in Ross’ endeavours. In fact, the second book is mostly about Corwen’s family situation and his problem brother, Freddie (a very reluctant shapechanger). The third book, ROWANKIND, sees Ross and Corwen in an equal partnership, each playing to their strengths.

All these other magical creatures.  Are they bumping into each other or seeking each other out?  

The rowankind, newly freed from their servitude, have a gentle weather magic of their own. Also there are magical creatures accidentally freed into the world. In the second book we met two kelpies, in the third there’s a troll who is both in danger and dangerous. The Lady of the Forests (the consort of the Green Man) rules over magical creatures, helped by a small army of sprites and a number of magicals who have gravitated to her home in the Okewood and become a community.

Is the Mysterium a nuisance or a menace?

It’s a menace. Any magic user who does not register with them by their 18th birthday is automatically an unregistered witch, and therefore likely to be hanged without trial if they are caught. In SILVERWOLF the Mysterium is exceeding its brief which causes a head-on clash with Ross, Corwen and a bunch of magicals. In ROWANKIND, the Mysterium has begun to realise that the newly freed rowankind have magic, so it’s treating them as unregistered witches. Thus the danger escalates and the Fae decide to step in. That’s bad news for Britain. The Fae may have left mortals alone for centuries, but that’s mostly because they didn’t care to be involved. However, don’t think that they are harmless. Once they get involved, they aren’t going to back down. Something’s got to give and it won’t be the Fae.

Is the Mysterium involved in political intrigue and social unrest or do they keep their distance?

They know their place and they have their instructions. They don’t intend to let anyone or anything stand between them and their duty to persecute unregistered magic. But at the end of the day they are simply a government department – albeit a powerful one. Walsingham is above the Mysterium while remaining independent. He reports only to the king and the king’s spymaster (or the first minister). He’s very dangerous once he gets you in his sights.

The social unrest is purely economic because (check out actual history) there have been a series of bad harvests and the wars with France are taking their toll. When the price goes up, there are bread riots. The government is truly worried that they are only one more bad harvest away from famine and then the social powder keg will blow. One of the driving reasons for peace with France (1802) is that Britain is getting close to the end of available resources and peace will give them a chance to take a breather and gather resources. Of course, France is doing the same, so it soon kicks off again.

How do King George and Emperor Napoleon factor into all this?

Napoleon is the unseen threat to Britain from overseas. His ships are the ones Ross’ privateer crew prey upon, but he’s not a character in the books. King George III becomes important as a character when the Fae expect him to be able to protect the rowankind. Of course it’s not as simple as that because the king’s personal power is limited by parliament. (The Fae don’t understand this because the last time they engaged with the human world, a king’s power was absolute.) Ross discovers King George’s madness is magical and hopes that this will make him sympathetic… well, it was a nice thought, but it’s not going to be that easy.

Same question for the Industrial Revolution.

That’s an interesting one. In 1800 the industrial revolution is not all that far advanced. There are steam engines for pumping water, but no steam locomotives yet. The cloth trade is changing. Cottage industry is being replaced by factories, but they are mostly powered by water wheels for some processes (fulling for example). Belt technology is not sufficiently advanced for mass production. What will make a difference from the end of ROWANKIND onwards is that the rowankind can manipulate wind and water, which, if used on an industrial scale, is going to slow down the advent of steam power. Why develop expensive steam technology when cheap magic does the job? Why light the streets with gas when you can light them with magic?

I see lots of plot activity and lots of character interaction, but I don’t see any themes.  Am I missing something?

Broadly the theme is tolerance and understanding for those with differences, but I don’t hit the theme with a hammer. It’s there if you look for it.

Are we going to see any spinoffs, prequels, or sequels to Rowankind?

I’ve been working on a YA book set in a present day which is a future projected from the Rowankind books. It’s the 21st century without computers, mobile phones and television. Technology is roughly a century behind where it is now.

What about your Psi Tech series.  Are you ever going to revisit that fictional universe?

I’m looking at the possibilities of that right now, but I’m not very far along the road with a new project. It might or might not happen.

What other projects have you got brewing?

I’m in the final polishing stages of The Amber Crown, a new standalone historical fantasy set in an analogue of the Baltic States in the 1600s. I’m very excited by it. It’s got magic and politics. It’s told from the viewpoint of three disparate characters and opens with the assassination of a king. The characters are Valdas, the failed bodyguard, whose job it was to keep the king safe; Mirza, a Romani witch, who is given the job of guiding Valdas in a task, and Lind, the assassin. These are complex characters, especially Lind who has more hangups than a wardrobe full of coathangers.

Are you still with DAW for the foreseeable future?

I certainly hope so. When I look along my bookshelves a huge proportion of the SF books I’ve been reading for years are published by DAW. I think I’m a good fit for them, and they’re a good fit for me. My (Hugo-winning) editor is Sheila Gilbert. She’s delightful to work with and brings a wealth of experience to any project I present. She’s also a really nice person to work with.

Jacey Bedford

Where can readers catch up with you for a signing, photo, or panel?

I’ve just finished my round of UK conventions for this year. I attended Eastercon, Fantasycon and Bristolcon, and just a few days ago gave a workshop on worldbuilding and did a panel on characters at the Escafeld event in Sheffield. Next year I’m planning to be at Dublin Worldcon, but I haven’t booked any UK conventions yet. But people can always contact me via my website: www.jaceybedford.co.uk. I’m always happy to engage with readers. I also have a blog at https://jaceybedford.wordpress.com/ and I do answer comments. My facebook writing page is https://www.facebook.com/jacey.bedford.writer/ and ditto about responding to comments. I also tweet @jaceybedford, though I confess I’m not on there every day.

Rowankind Trilogy Completed

By Carl Slaughter: In November 2018, DAW author Jacey Bedford wrapped her alternate history magic trilogy Rowankind.

A magic regulatory agency that controls magic by whatever means necessary, a swashbuckling crew of pirates and their lady captain, recently unbound magic creatures roaming the streets of London, a shapeshifting werewolf, a jealous husband ghost.  Throw in historical figures:  Mad King George, and the Industrial Revolution.  Plenty of plot twists and subplots.

The protagonist is a young woman trying to maintain her independence, stay alive, find romance, resolve family issues, and help her fellow magic creatures.  No, she’s not trying to determine the course of history.  Like the other protagonists in this story, she’s just trying to discover and achieve her destiny.

ROWANKIND TRILOGY
by Jacey Bedford
DAW

  • Winterwood

It’s 1800. Mad King George is on the British throne, and Bonaparte is hammering at the door. Magic is strictly controlled by the Mysterium, but despite severe penalties, not all magic users have registered.

Ross Tremayne, widowed, cross-dressing privateer captain and unregistered witch, likes her life on the high seas, accompanied by a boatload of swashbuckling pirates and the possessive ghost of her late husband, Will. When she pays a bitter deathbed visit to her long-estranged mother she inherits a half brother she didn’t know about and a task she doesn’t want: open the magical winterwood box and right an ancient wrong—if she can.

Enter Corwen. He’s handsome, sexy, clever, and capable, and Ross doesn’t really like him; neither does Will’s ghost. Can he be trusted? Whose side is he on?

Unable to chart a course to her future until she’s unraveled the mysteries of the past, she has to evade a ruthless government agent who fights magic with darker magic, torture, and murder; and brave the hitherto hidden Fae. Only then can she hope to open the magical winterwood box and right her ancestor’s wrongdoing. Unfortunately, success may prove fatal to both Ross and her new brother, and disastrous for the country. By righting a wrong, is Ross going to unleash a terrible evil? Is her enemy the real hero and Ross the villain?

  • Silverwolf

Britain, 1801. King George’s episodic sanity is almost as damaging as his madness. First Consul Napoleon is gathering his forces in France. The disease of democracy is spreading. The world is poised on the brink of the modern era, but the rowankind, long a source of free labor, have shaken off their bonds.

Some have returned to laru to find freedom with the Fae; others are trying to find a place in the world, looking for fair treatment under the law. The course of the industrial revolution may change forever.

Wild magic is on the rise. Creatures of legend are returning to the world: kelpies, pixies, trolls, hobs, and goblins. Ross and Corwen, she a summoner witch and he a wolf shapechanger, have freed the rowankind from bondage, but now they are caught in the midst of the conflict, while trying their best to avoid the attention of the Mysterium, the government organization which would see them hanged for their magic.

When an urgent letter calls Corwen back to Yorkshire, he and Ross become embroiled in dark magic, family secrets, and industrial treachery. London beckons. There they discover a missing twin, an unexpected friend, and an old enemy—called Walsingham.

  • Rowankind

What do you do with a feral wolf shapechanger who won’t face up to his responsibilities? How do you contain magical creatures accidentally loosed into Britain’s countryside? How do you convince a crew of barely-reformed pirates to go straight when there’s smuggling to be done? How do you find a lost notebook full of deadly spells while keeping out of the clutches of its former owner? How do you mediate between a mad king and the seven lords of the Fae?

Ross and Corwen, she a witch and he a shapechanger, have several problems to solve but they all add up to the same thing. How do you make Britain safe for magic users?

It’s 1802. A tenuous peace with France is making everyone jumpy. The Fae, and therefore Ross and Corwen at their behest, have unfinished business with Mad King George, who may not be as mad as everyone thinks–or if he is, he’s mad in a magical way. The Fae have left mankind alone up to now because they don’t care to get involved with mortals, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re harmless.

Sci-Fi News and Analysis Roundup 11/3

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

Star Trek: Deep Space 9

A prosperous future, filled with opportunity and upside burst from The Next Generation as Captain Picard’s Enterprise pushed the boundaries of space and humankind each week. Its follow up, Deep Space Nine, showed audiences a far bleaker part of space, in a setting more accustomed to thievery, infighting, and insurrection than TNG’s spotless bridge.

This angered many fans, but others still would argue that the new tone allowed for more ethically challenging themes.

Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager didn’t follow through on the part of its premise that involved a Starfleet ship stranded 75,000 lightyears away from any military, technical, or mechanical support. That’s most evident in the ship’s consistently perfect condition throughout the run of the series.

The ship went through some major, major conflicts with nemeses like the Borg, Species 8472, the Kazon, the Hirogen – the list goes on. But apparently the repair crew (and the industrial replicators needed to produce the necessary materials) were really, really good at their jobs, because Voyager should’ve been a scrap heap.

More items follow the jump.

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Sci-Fi In-Depth Discussion Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

  • The politics of Doctor Who

  • Bradbury and The Twilight Zone

Marc Zicree claims Ray Bradbury gave him an exclusive on Bradbury’s falling out with Rod Serling. Zicree also makes a good case that without Bradbury’s proteges, The Twilight Zone would not have been as successful.

More items follow the jump.

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Science News Roundup 10/10/18

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

An abundance of planets with an abundance of water

If you hope to one day wake up to the news that scientists have discovered a planet with alien life, the scientists working with the Kepler space telescope have some very good news for you. In a presentation at the Goldschmidt Conference in Boston, researchers from Harvard revealed that the data from the Kepler telescope suggests that water-covered planets are actually a lot more common than you might think.

NASA chief wants to populate space

NASA obviously has a huge interest in mankind exploring space, so it would make sense that the administration’s newly-appointed chief shares the same interests. In a recent interview with Space.com, NASA’s newly-appointed boss Jim Bridenstine makes a couple of interesting declarations, but starts by assuring everyone that he wants to get as many humans as possible off of planet Earth.

DARPA invests in AI research

At a symposium in Washington DC on Friday, DARPA announced plans to invest $2 billion in artificial intelligence research over the next five years. In a program called “AI Next,” the agency now has over 20 programs currently in the works and will focus on “enhancing the security and resiliency of machine learning and AI technologies, reducing power, data, performance inefficiencies and [exploring] ‘explainability'” of these systems. “Machines lack contextual reasoning capabilities, and their training must cover every eventuality, which is not only costly, but ultimately impossible,” said director Dr. Steven Walker.

Satellites that have satellite babies that have satellite babies

Mysterious Russian satellite worries experts

 

Ion rocket engines

Rocket Scientist Natalya Bailey owns a space startup called Accion Systems that specializes in making wafer thin engines that require a tiny fraction of energy that conventional rockets use. If successful, these ion thrusters could revolutionize how we will move through the final frontier.

 

Flying scooter

A man in South China claims to have created the world’s first ‘flying scooter,’ although we’d be remiss not to point out its resemblance to a large quadcopter drone.

According to United Press International (UPI), the aerial vehicle can seat one person and travel at a top speed of roughly 70 kilometers per hour. The machine’s maximum load is 99 kilograms.

AI glider learns how to fly

It took mankind untold eons to learn how to fly, but now artificial intelligence is doing something similar and in a fraction of the time. No, there’s no robots constructing planes like the Wright brothers, but some AI-powered gliders are indeed learning how to cruise through the air just like birds, and they’re getting pretty good at it.

14-year-old builds bullet proof wall to protect students during school shootings

Audrey Larson is a 14-year-old inventor.

For past competitions, she’s created glow-in-the-dark pajamas and a device to pet your dog. But this year, after hearing about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, she felt compelled to focus on a more serious issue….

Mars habitat contest

Yes, we’ve yet to successfully send humans to Mars, but we already need to start thinking how we can stay there for long stretches of time — or even for good. NASA launched the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge back in 2015 to find a suitable artificial housing for the first wave of Martian residents, and now the agency has narrowed the contestants down to five after seeing the realistic virtual models they created. The agency and its project partner, Illinois’ Bradley University, judged 18 teams’ models created using a specialized software.

The Earth is wobbling, the Earth is wobbling!

…Two of the three factors identified by the scientists are glacial rebound and mantle convection. Glacial rebound happens when thick ice sheets physically push down on land masses, compressing them, but then release that pressure upon melting. The land then balloons back up over time, causing Earth’s spin to wobble as if slightly off-axis. The effects of the last ice age, which would have compressed a huge amount of land across many continents, is still being felt today in the form of glacial rebound…

Hexagons on Saturn

Saturn sure has a thing for peculiar shapes! Astronomers have known for some time that Saturn’s north pole has developed a very odd hexagonal shape. The massive storm swirling there has well-defined sides, and is a near perfect hexagon. It also has a habit of changing color.

Now, using images gathered from the Cassini mission (rest in pieces), a new study reveals that there’s not one, but two massive hexagons swirling on Saturn’s northern half, and the new one is even higher than the other. As LiveScience notes, scientists haven’t figured out if the two are actually connected in any way, but it would be a pretty wild coincidence if they’re not.

Super soldiers now

Ever since Captain America debuted in Marvel Comics, scientists have been getting closer and closer to creating real-life super soldiers. With the help of Professor E. Paul Zehr and his new book ‘Chasing Captain America’, we’ll explore the origin and history of the Star Spangled Man and explain the science of the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers into the Sentinel of Liberty!

 

“Starfish, destroy!”

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has seen better days. The massive natural wonder is dealing with the impacts of ocean warming (thanks to manmade climate change) which have pushed species away and killed off massive sections of coral, but that’s not the only problem the reef has been forced to deal with.

More recently, an influx of starfish have begun to take over the reef. This is thought to be the result of chemicals from human activity running into the ocean. As CNET reports, some of those chemicals can have the unintended effect of promoting breeding due to increases in algae, which is exactly what the starfish look for to keep their offspring alive. But now, researchers have a robotic ally to keep starfish populations in check, and it’s a real killer.

“Lionfish, destroy!”

Lionfish are incredibly eye-catching creatures, and they’re a favorite of salt water aquarium enthusiasts because they just plain look cool. They’re also an incredibly troublesome species when they are introduced in areas where they don’t belong, and coral reefs in the Caribbean are under serious threat from an invasion.

Now, researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed an autonomous robot that is capable of hunting down lionfish all on its own. But the bot doesn’t just identify and kill the invasive fish — using sharp spears to snag the fish and bring it down — it also allows for the dead fish to be fetched by fishermen who can harvest and sell it.

Is humanity about to accidentally declare war on an alien civilization?

…So let’s say we get it right. We develop the right material to reflect enough of the laser light that it doesn’t incinerate the sail. We collimate the lasers well-enough and build a large-enough array to accelerate these starchip spacecrafts to their designed speeds of 20% the speed of light: ~60,000 km/s. And then we aim them at a planet around a potentially habitable star, such as Alpha Centauri A or Tau Ceti.

Perhaps we’ll send an array of starchips to the same system, hoping to probe these systems and gain more information. After all, the main science goal, as it’s been proposed, is to simply take data during arrival and transmit it back. But there are three huge problems with this plan, and combined, they could be tantamount to a declaration of interstellar war….

Screen News and Analysis Roundup

Compiled by Carl Slaughter:

Men in Black spinoff

Liam Neeson is in negotiations to join Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson in Sony’s Men in Black spinoff.

Fate of the Furious filmmaker F. Gary Gray is directing the project, written by Iron Man screenwriters Matt Holloway and Art Marcum. The studio has the film dated for a June 14, 2019, release.

Hemsworth and Thompson are not playing the same alien-fighting and world-saving characters portrayed by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in the initial film trilogy. The new movie is set in the same onscreen world, however.

Watchmen TV show

The show was in the pilot stage until now, but HBO released a short teaser video on the network’s Twitter on Friday to celebrate the series order. The video shows the text “Nothing ever ends” and the bloody smiley face that is the novel’s signature image, before revealing that the show will premiere in 2019.

…Lindelof revealed plot details about the series in a letter on Instagram in May. The show will be an original story with new characters, but take place in the universe of the graphic novel. He implied it would be set in a post-Trump world.

Live action Doom Patrol

A former race car driver, Cliff Steele was in a horrific accident that left his body uninhabitable. Cliff’s brain was saved by the mysterious Dr. Niles Caulder and he lives on in a powerful robotic body.

Fraser will provide the voice-over for Robotman and will appear in flashback scenes as Cliff Steele. Riley Shanahan has also been cast in the role of Robotman. He will provide the physical performance of the character on stage in full body costume.

Vampyr TV show

If you’re looking for a new supernatural television series, you’re in luck (if you don’t mind waiting a while). Fox 21 Television Studios will produce a new show based on the video game Vampyr by the developer of Life is Strange, Dontnod. The title came out for Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 5th.

Prodigy TV show

The service has unveiled Prodigy, a Mark Millar-penned comic book due in both digital and paper forms on December 5th. The series revolves around Edison Crane, the “world’s smartest man,” who has virtually everything he could want but is fueled by an endless drive that leads him to solve problems for governments around the planet. As the artwork from Batman visualizer Rafael Albuquerque suggests, Crane will have to rely on both his mind and some firepower to get things done.

Birds of Prey / Black Mask

Black Canary, Huntress, Cassandra Cain, and Renee Montoya will join Harley Quinn’s girl gang in the Margot Robbie film “Birds of Prey,” TheWrap has exclusively learned.

It’s tough keeping track of all the places that Margot Robbie might show up in the DCEU at the moment. Conservatively, there’s Suicide Squad 2, a Joker and Harley Quinn movie, maybe a Harley Quinn solo movie, and Birds Of Prey.

The team-up movie that could potentially introduce characters like Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Black Canary, Huntress, and others to the DCEU, seems to be high on the priority list at WB, having recently hired Cathy Yan as director with a script by Christina Hodson.

Move over Marvel/DC, these are the new comic book movies

But there are a lot more comics out there. If you’ve never heard of Rogue Trooper, the Umbrella Academy or American Jesus, here’s everything you need to know about these stories leaping from page to screen.

15 comic book projects in development and 15 that are rumored

It’s not only limited to the big screen, though. Comic books are being adapted everywhere. There are almost too many shows to count from both Marvel and DC, not even counting series based on so many indie comics.

DC has built an entire universe at CW, just as Marvel has done at Netflix.

Spider-Man will return to the universe of open-world adventure games that he helped to define with ActiVision’s Spider-Man on the original PlayStation for the new PS4 game, while other Marvel properties are promised to receive new games as well.

DC has been dominating the gaming sphere for years with mega-hit titles like the Arkham series and Injustice.

From comics to TV to movies, superheroes are all over the place—and comics aren’t just limited to them either, of course. There are so many comic based properties coming down the pipeline that they can be hard to keep track…

Not Space Force. Space Forces. Forces Plural.

By Carl Slaughter: When Trump announced a space force, the late-night comedians had a field day.

But Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is this generation’s Carl Sagan, has been making the rounds of the talk shows to say that the idea of a space force is not fundamentally flawed.

I would go further.  Much further.

Tucked away in an article about China going to Mars and the Moon is a sentence that jumped out at me:  One of the craters on the far side of the Moon is iron rich.

We haven’t seen a soil sample from that crater or a gas sample from Jupiter or an ice sample from Saturn’s rings or a metal sample from the Asteroid Belt.  So we have not yet gotten excited about space mining.

But we will.  When we have lab confirmation that those resources are available and realize they are within our grasp, we’re going to decide to mine space, just as we decided to walk on the Moon, and we’re going to make it happen.

And that’s when we will have high-stakes claims wars  –  and sabotage and espionage and assassination.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, geopolitics and economies will go through upheaval in response to what’s happening in space.

Meanwhile, out in space, colonies will declare their independence, just as America and India did, and try to nationalize the resources they were sent there to mine.

Those mother countries are going to say to those colonists, “We financed that colony.  If you want to be independent, you can start your own colony.  If not, prepare to be executed, exiled, or imprisoned.”

It’s going to be something out of a science fiction story.  Yeah, there’ s gonna be space forces.  Forces plural.

The Pentagon, the Russians, and the Chinese have all demonstrated the capacity to shoot down satellites.  We have manned shuttles and manned space stations.  We have already landed on the Moon.  It’s only a matter of time, and probably in our lifetime, before Elon Musk or NASA or someone builds a colony on Mars.

Eventually, some clever scientists will find a way to mine those gases, metals, and ice.  Then other clever scientists will find a way to transport all those resources to Earth cheaply.

Wormholes, FLT, mass transfer.  They are distant, but their day will arrive.

The day is coming when a space force will make as much sense as a police force, a naval force, and an air force.