(1) SINCE THERE’S NOTHING ON TV TOMORROW. MeTV has located several downloadable designs for making Star Trek ships from paper that you can use to keep yourself busy on Sunday if football is not your thing.
In Japan, the art of paper modeling is commonplace. Companies like Sankei sell miniature papercraft kits for building everything from cartoon creatures to houses and vehicles. Here in the West, it has started to catch on, as fans use two-dimensional paper to recreate three-dimensional models of their favorite characters, props and even spaceships.
In the Sixties, you might recall, we had rather simple coloring books, sticker books and paper dolls. Now, this has gone to a whole new level. Better yet, fans have created patterns anyone can print up and assemble for free. (We recommend spending for some high quality photo paper, though.)
As fans find new ways to engineer this craft, no subject is left out of the mix. Star Trek, naturally, remains a mainstay of the craze, but just about any classic sci-fi show you can think of has papercraft models available for download. We found Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea submarines and the Jupiter 2 from Lost in Space….
We hunted down some favorites, if you are so inclined to give it a try. You can print and build:
The Galileo II Shuttle (instructions, template)
(2) MARS MY DESTINATION. Abraham Sherman of The John Carter Files tells why Elon Musk has him feeling more optimistic about reaching the Red Planet – “Home Sweet Mars”.
…Currently, the next milestone on SpaceX’s path to Mars is for them to finish and launch the Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket, the first of their rockets that will have sufficient power to get spacecraft to Mars. After the FH gets off the ground late this year, the next milestone will be in 2018, when the unmanned Red Dragon capsule is to be launched atop a FH, and sent to test propulsive landing on Mars – a technique which forgoes parachutes and airbags and is entirely dependent on the built-in boosters of the capsule. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Pm8ZY0XJI The Red Dragon mission is the small tip of a much larger spear which was described in detail during Musk’s presentation at the IAC.
The SpaceX flagship for Mars colonization will be the Interplanetary Transport System (ITS). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qo78R_yYFA It will be the largest rocket ever built, and will be able to take one hundred Mars colonists at a time to the Red Planet. It is in the design phase, and is currently scheduled to make its maiden voyage in 2024. Once the colony is up and running and can accommodate massive numbers of new colonists at a time, the plan is to send dozens, or even hundreds of ITS spacecraft simultaneously to Mars. SpaceX has proven to be uniquely motivated and situated to get to Mars several years ahead of any other organization, public or private….
(3) MOONWALKING. Famous astronaut “87-Year-Old Buzz Aldrin Slays The Runway At New York Fashion Week” reports The Huffington Post.
Buzz Aldrin took to the catwalk Tuesday in a New York Fashion Week debut he said was “as easy as walking on the moon.”
The 87-year-old astronaut ? who in 1969 became the second person to walk on the moon ? sported a metallic bomber jacket in designer Nick Graham’s show, aptly titled “Life on Mars.”
Aldrin couldn’t have looked cuter in his pants, sneakers and self-designed “Get your ass to Mars” shirt.
(4) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Ursula K. Le Guin took offense at a letter to the editor published by The Oregonian attempting to justify political “alternate facts” as akin to science fiction. Her rebuttal appeared on February 1:
A recent letter in The Oregonian compares a politician’s claim to tell “alternative facts” to the inventions of science fiction. The comparison won’t work. We fiction writers make up stuff. Some of it clearly impossible, some of it realistic, but none of it real – all invented, imagined — and we call it fiction because it isn’t fact. We may call some of it “alternative history” or “an alternate universe,” but make absolutely no pretense that our fictions are “alternative facts.”
Facts aren’t all that easy to come by. Honest scientists and journalists, among others, spend a lot of time trying to make sure of them. The test of a fact is that it simply is so – it has no “alternative.” The sun rises in the east. To pretend the sun can rise in the west is a fiction, to claim that it does so as fact (or “alternative fact”) is a lie.
A lie is a non-fact deliberately told as fact. Lies are told in order to reassure oneself, or to fool, or scare, or manipulate others. Santa Claus is a fiction. He’s harmless. Lies are seldom completely harmless, and often very dangerous. In most times, most places, by most people, liars are considered contemptible.
Ursula K. Le Guin, Northwest Portland
(5) NOW I UNDERSTAND. James Whitbrook of i09 explains “The Detailed, Depressing Reason Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get Full HD Versions”.
…By the mid-1980s, video technology had advanced enough to the point that many TV shows—including Star Trek: The Next Generation—were no longer editing the 35mm film footage, but scanning it into computers, transforming it into the lower, TV-friendly resolution and edited from there to save money. In TNG’s case, that helped make the VFX work on the show easier, but it also meant there all the show’s film was left in separate pieces. Essentially, for the HD release of Star Trek, all people had to do was scan each episode. For The Next Generation, they would have to scan all those original pieces of film and then edit together each episode again, themselves. It’s more difficult, more expensive, and much more time-consuming.
What’s amazing is that they actually did this for TNG’s Blu-ray release, which was a radical, unprecedented, and incredibly daunting task. Following the edited tape versions that were originally broadcast, a new team painstakingly recreated every episode of the show from the 35mm film footage, a process that cost millions and millions of dollars. But as TNG is the jewel in the Star Trek crown for legions of fans, it was seen as worth it….
(6) NOT SCI-FI, BUT OH WOW! John King Tarpinian spied this item for sale —
(7) DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CALL THIS ONE. Atlas Obscura’s video about Wisconsin’s House on the Rock makes me want to visit. As a connoisseur of hoaxes, I wish I’d discovered it years ago!
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born February 4, 1940 — Filmmaker and zombie auteur George A. Romero, in NYC.
(9) HORROR IN SPACE. Here is the Super Bowl TV Spot for the forthcoming movie Life. Looks interesting, in a menacing sort of way…
(10) URBAN WRIGHTS. Futurism shows six examples of what architects think “The City of the Future” will look like.
…Architects and urban planners are letting their imaginations run wild — after all, where else can we go but toward our most outlandish, exciting, and sometimes even dystopian imaginings of the future?
For five years now, the Seasteading Institute has been working toward building Artisanolopolis, a floating city that runs on solar and hydroelectric power.
To make food production sustainable, the entire city would feature greenhouses, and a desalination plant would be responsible for the production of safe drinking water. The floating island would be protected by a massive wave breaker designed to prevent water damage to the structure.
Last year, the Seastanding Institute signed a memorandum with the French Polynesian government to begin construction on this ocean domain by 2019. If everything goes according to plan, the world’s first floating city, operating with significant political autonomy, may be ready for habitation as early as 2020.
(11) MEMORY GAPS. Unlike me, the staff at MeTV seems to remember all “15 forgotten sci-fi and fantasy series of the 1970s”. The question is – which of us is better off?
Charlie’s Angels creators Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts failed to strike gold again with this nostalgic flop. Think of it as Fantasy Island with time travel. Vincent Price starred as the conductor of a time-traveling train that would take passengers to the past in order to relive important points in their lives. Only four episodes aired before it was canceled. The synthesizer-heavy theme song was cool, though, clearly inspired by Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express.”
(12) NASFiC NEWS. NorthAmeriCon ’17, the NASfiC in San Juan, has opened Art Show registration.
NorthAmeriCon ’17 will have an Art Show! We welcome original art on science fiction, fantasy, astronomical, or fannish themes.
Registration for artists is now open through Jo Hogan’s website for managing artist data:
(13) AN ENCOURAGING WORD. NASA’s Kepler & K2 SciCon IV convention for scientists has a Code of Conduct, too. Thoughts?
Code of Conduct
The community of participants at astronomical meetings and in astronomical research is made up of members from around the globe with a diverse set of skills, personalities, and experiences. It is through these differences that our community experiences success and continued growth. We expect everyone in our community to follow these guidelines when interacting with others both inside and outside of our community. Our goal is to maintain a positive, inclusive, successful, and growing community.
As members of the community,
- We pledge to treat all people with respect and provide a harassment and bullying-free environment, regardless of sex, sexual orientation and/or gender identity, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, nationality, ethnicity, and religion. In particular, sexual language and imagery, sexist, racist, or otherwise exclusionary jokes are not appropriate. We will treat those outside our community with the same respect as people within our community.
- We pledge that all discussions between members of the community should be done with respect, and we pledge to take proactive measure to ensure that all participants are heard and feel confident that they can freely express their opinions.
- We pledge to help the entire community follow the code of conduct and to act accordingly when we note violations.
This code of conduct applies to all community situations, including conferences, associated social events, on social media, and one-on-one interactions….
(14) SEE PROPS OF THE EXPANSE. Adam Savage visits the props department of Syfy’s The Expanse, where armorists and propmakers engineer the weapons, helmets, and the gear that give weight and story to the universe of the show. Prop master James Murray shows Adam some of the unique props his team has made, revealing aesthetic and functional details.
[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, David K.M. Klaus, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]
Nope, McCallum will always be Ilya Kuryakin to me.
11) I remember “The Man from Atlantis”, although I don’t think I ever saw it. What really caught my attention, though, was that “The Starlost” and “The Ghost Busters” both used title composition that mimics the original Star Wars.
@ Steve W: I do remember Logan’s Run (mostly with an accompanying soundtrack of my dad saying “he’s not under thirty… she’s not under thirty… she’s definitely not under thirty….”)
Oops. While I’m sadly accustomed to TV and movie adaptations getting the physical descriptions wildly wrong (cf. The Black Stallion, where they cast a 6-year-old kid to play teenage Alec Ramsay), making that particular mistake when the age of the characters is the major plot engine seems more stupid than usual.
Mike Glyer: I think fantasy like the Three Musketeers gets a pass. It’s not like the’re actually expected to believe in France.
(Seriously, I think after a certain point historical fiction gets shelved into the “Long Ago and Far Away” category.)
@James David Nicoll: I dunno, “And then got my head chopped off would kind of put a kink in wrapping up the book from the woman’s perspective.
Okay, it’s been decades since I read the Musketeers stories, but did I miss something? They’re not science fiction, are they?
I don’t understand how contemporary young peoples’ reactions to historic fiction and science fiction can be compared. Why wouldn’t something that happened way in the past be believable to them? Whereas I can easily understand why something written way in the past, that’s supposed to be about the future, might not be believable.
Bonnie McDaniel: Bah. That bit of ridiculousness soured me on seeing the movie.
Yeah, my first thought was “Ooh, a new science fiction movie?” and then I saw the full trailer at the website and thought, “Well, that’s a straight-to-video if I ever saw one”, although the presence of Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gyllenhaal will no doubt ensure a theatrical release.
They must have offered those guys a hell of a lot of money, to get them to sign on for a B movie like that.
@James Davis Nicoll
Tansy Rayner Roberts wrote Musketeer Space, a gender-swapped version of the Three Musketeers in space.
The Man from Atlantis definitely aired in Germany sometimes in the late 1970s/early 1980s, probably on weekend afternoons. I saw it, too, though I didn’t much like it, because Patrick Duffy’s webbed hands creeped me out. Hey, I was about six.
I actually have massive problems getting enjoyment from most 200-year-old novels. Part of it is the difference in prose style. The meandering, distancing mode doesn’t allow the sort of immersive reading I’m used to from modern books. A big part of it is having to put up with a different worldview, different values, different expectations about who gets to have what kind of story. It doesn’t even take 200 years. Analyzing the problem of “how do I have to read differently to enjoy this book” was a big driver behind the blog series I did on Burnett’s A Little Princess this past year.
One of the reasons I often prefer to consume older classics via audio is that it bypasses my difficulties with the non-immersive prose. But I would never claim that I enjoy 19th century novels with the same easy connectedness that I do contemporary ones. And certainly not with the same expectations of alignment of social frameworks.
@ James Davis Nicoll
Tansy Rayner Roberts recently released Musketeer Space, a gender-flipped space-opera retelling of the story. I loved the concept but it didn’t quite grab me enough to keep me going. (In some ways, I think it was too faithful in terms of pacing and stylistics.)
@Mike Glyer &ff: I don’t think historical novels are comparable to SF novels. I suspect many readers choke on the idea that attitudes that have been steadily fading for a generation will somehow come thundering back in the future. (Very occasionally regression is justified; note the prolog to The Stars My Destination.) Historical novels, OTOH, have a period to be realistic to (as @JJ notes); readers who can cope with stereotypical roles can enjoy the story. It would be interesting to see what JDN’s readers think of contemporary-setting fantasy, from Thorne Smith through Sturgeon’s evolutions.
@Lee: the cutoff in the novel version of Logan’s Run was 21; the movie changed that to 30 because it was still treatable as young (cf “Don’t trust anyone over 30”) but castable (they thought). I don’t remember thinking that the actors looked beyond 30 (as opposed to \being/ older), and IMDB tells me that both Farrah Fawcett and Jenny Agutter were under 30 at the time. (York was a little older — but being a Sandman rather than a hedonist may be more wearing.)
The terrible, terrible Canadian TV series debuted in 1973.
@ Chip: Steve’s comment and my response were about the TV series, not the movie. I never saw the series and am taking his word (and his father’s) for the ages of the actors and their ability (or not) to believably portray a character under 30.
I did notice that some of the actors in the film version of Logan’s Run looked over 30 (e.g. Richard Jordan who played Francis, Logan’s partner turned antagonist, was already 39). And at one point, where Logan and Francis corner a female runner, she tells them, “This is all a mistake. Do I look like I’m thirty?” and we all said in unison, “No, she looks like forty.”
As for the TV series, of which I’ve only seen bits and pieces, if IMDB is to be believed, Gregory Harrison was 27 and Heather Menzies 28, i.e. both were of about the same age as their characters.
Kate: Gibbs, what did Ducky look like when he was younger?
Gibbs: Ilya Kuryakin.
To me, he’ll always be a Welsh singer whose promising career recording mostly folk was cut short when he was offered a part in a TV series.
Nah, just kidding. Ilya Kuryakin for me, too.
I’ll always remember the Logan’s Run TV show for Heather Menzies in her miniskirt. What? I was 13.
I don’t know what you’re talking about. There was never a Logan’s Run TV series. Or movie. Even the book never existed. Never, I tell you, never!.
I swear to God I’ve heard World Weary’s mother’s Buzz Aldrin story before.
It makes perfect sense to me that some percentage of people would remember Project UFO as Project Blue Book, because that was the name of the real project and people knew that at the time.
I grew up with 19th century novels as part of my early reading experience. Staring squinty-eyed at it, I can sort of almost see the problem with getting into it if you weren’t corrupted in your innocent, unsuspecting youth.
Pretty sure 8 had more to say, but I’m asleep and therefore less than coherent.
I accept that comment about 200-year-old novels in general. Dumas’ style comparison with literature of the day was much zippier — and was, I believe, counted as disposable lightweight amusement.
Jane Austen also wrote in a style more compatible with contemporary tastes, but since she was undermining the manners she observed so incisively she was not exiled from the literary canon. Dumas could mock and parody what he regarded as the overwrought fashions of people of defective character, while he would honor styles because they were favored by heroic figures. There was no trace of puritanism in him.
(11) I remember seeing at least six of the shows: Ark II, Logan’s Run, Quark, Man from Atlantis, Project UFO, and Salvage 1. I was right around the age to enjoy them too, 9-12 or so, and I did indeed enjoy the middle four at the time. I tell ya though, they had degraded horribly by the time they hit reruns a couple of years later. I might have seen an episode or two of Space Academy and Jason of Star Command; they seem very slightly familiar.
There was no trace of puritanism in him.
Indeed. He was a ding-dong daddy.
Also, he was in Homeboys in Outer Space. If I had a nickle for every time I confused HiOS with ST:TOS…
Regarding the enjoyment of novels written a century or two ago, it occurs to me to add that they are rarely being promoted as examples of what writers today should emulate. There’s also the factor that a ca. 1800 novel about ca. 1650 events is more likely to be given a pass for representing the actual prejudices of the times (of either of its times) than, say, a ca 1950 novel about ca 2050 events or the like.
And an interesting related observation on historic prose stylings… As people who read my blog will know, I’ve been posting an “editorially cleaned up” version of my great-great-grandfather’s American Civil War diaries and letters (the original unedited transcripts are also on my website). Other than regularizing some spellings and adding explanatory notes and web links, the majority of my editing has been a massive transfusion of punctuation to try to turn his long run-on sentences into something that can be parsed on the first reading (as opposed to the tenth).
@HRJ: “a massive transfusion of punctuation”
Ooof. I’ve read indie fiction with the same problem. I keep wanting to deliver buckets of commas. 🙂
@microtherion: I don’t have Expanded Universe (which is what Wikipedia is citing) in front of me to see what they’re paraphrasing, but I’m puzzled by the logic there. Doing something “to create support for the U.S. nuclear testing program” could be called propaganda, but in this case that something was not writing the book, it was this “Patrick Henry League” thing. Wikipedia’s paraphrase goes on to say that his intention in writing Starship Troopers was “to clarify and defend his military and political views at the time”, which is a much broader intention that basically amounts to “I am a writer with opinions and I want them to be visible in my work.” If you’re going to define “propaganda” so broadly then that’ll include lots and lots of fiction.
a massive transfusion of punctuation
I couldn’t even figure out, sometimes, where the boundaries were between sentences, in the letters and journal I was posting. So I didn’t try to fix that. (I found that the spellings were phonetic – which is why they could get the large words correct, and the small ones were variable.)
Re: editing historic journals — I usually try to note when I’m not certain about my interpretation. There’s also the matter that I’m not working from images of the original journals, but from my mother’s transcriptions. Those transcriptions were done at a couple different times and with different philosophies about strictness (as well as the occasional obvious transcription error, like entire phrases being duplicated).
These days, of course, I’d want to accompany the transcriptions with a good hi-res image, but some of this material dates back to when my mother was working on it when she was in high school, so that would be a no. The originals still exist in an archive somewhere, but I’m not that interested.
The project is being a lot of fun, though. Reading through the material closely enough to do the editing has greatly increased my admiration for Abiel LaForge’s erudition, humor, and astounding wartime luck in not getting his head blown off. If anyone’s interested, the edited material is on my blog here. That material starts at the beginning of 1864. The “raw” transcriptions start in 1861 and can be found here, although new material is only going up in both places as I do the editing. Abiel’s correspondence continues on after the end of the war up through 1880, shortly before his death.
I had one transcription that was journal and part of the letters, poorly typewritten in the 30s, and the others letters I transcribed from originals, or photocopies of them. The handwriting in both cases is difficult – I had part of one letter that was missed out from the journal – complicated by ink bleeding. It’s all of 240 pages long, with a decent title page.
Leaving aside the question of SF (which I always read with the date of its composition in mind, and make adjustments for), it’s an interesting question as to when fiction becomes “historical”.
There are two aspects to this. The first is where the writer is consciously producing something set in a previous time rather than their present (or future, of course). Something written today set in, say, 2007, would not I think be considered “historical fiction” by most people; something set in 1957 probably would. Where is the cutover?
The second is where the writer set something in their approximate current time, but did so a significant time ago. Austen was writing contemporary fiction, but many would classify it today as either “historical” or perhaps “period”. (Is there a better literary term?) Dickens mostly wrote recent historical fiction rather than depicting his own present, while Doyle’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ stories were contemporary when written, but many modern readers may find it hard to spot the distinction.
I can think of various authors’ works I read in my 1960s youth that, at that time, I felt to be rather dated contemporary fiction (for example, Agatha Christie and “Ellery Queen”) but recalled by older me seem, on reflection, to be “period” if not “historical”. Where do we draw the lines? Can we? Should we?
Terry Hunt, I’m reminded of the old canard, “old” is anyone twenty years older than ME. When you’re ten, thirty is old. When you’re thirty, fifty is old. When you’re fifty, seventy is old….
Lines are personal and based at least partly on life experience; I don’t think there’s a hard-and-fast rule. I’d read something set in the 1980s with lived-experience; an 18-year-old would not.
@ Terry Hunt
For me, as a writer, the cutover is where I need to do actual research to make sure the story is accurate to the time-period. There’s a “historic” novel kicking around in my head where the framing story is set in the summer of 2008 for very precise historical reasons and where the character’s professional lives involve fields where circumstances change rapidly enough that details would be easy to get wrong (Silicon Valley & academia).
If I didn’t need to anchor it to a specific date, then I could just write it as contemporary to the moment and it would eventually drift naturally to being a period piece. But if I’m writing it 10 years (or so) later and, for example, have a character working for a company that didn’t exist yet at that time, then it becomes a failed historical setting.
I was born in the 1950’s, so I was more than a little horrified recently to see a book set in the 1960’s referred to as “a historical novel”.
It’s not “historical” unless it’s pre-1952, dammit!