How is a dirty mess of dust, ice, and rock possibly that damn shiny?!

June 11th, 2015

io9 have started a new series with A Scientist Responds… To Deep Impact:

Premise #3: The giant comet headed towards us was not picked up by any of the agencies or researchers deep-scanning the skies, but a teenager with his backyard telescope did spot it.

The American military can't even keep the orbits of their clandestine spy satellites secret from amateur astronomers for long; a massive comet coming to destroy the planet would absolutely be noticed by everyone else, and the construction of the Messiah spacecraft would've been photographed in detail long before the President's speech.

The deeper problem though seems to be that astronomers in this movie don't actually look at stars. This is remarkably clear when teen astronomer Leo Biederman spontaneously decides the field of view for his telescope is greater than 10 degrees, the distance covered by two fists held at arm's length, and manages to find Alpha Centauri, a star not visible in the northern hemisphere. It doesn't get any better when we switch off to his doomed mentor, Dr. Marcus Wolf. By the time Wolf performs the world's fastest, tidiest orbital determination on virtually no data while munching on pizza before bolting off to make an instantaneous report on a comet that wouldn't arrive for over two years, I've already written him off as an alien from another dimension utterly lacking in night-vision rods in his eyes, an understanding of orbital mechanics, and common sense.

[…]

Verdict: No. Just no, not likely at all, and it makes me weep soggy tears for hard-working astronomers everywhere.

The sad thing is, I always had a bit of a soft spot for Deep Impact.1

Now, let's see them inflict The Core on some poor, unsuspecting sap.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  1. Though if I'm honest, this was in no small part because of the contrast with Armageddon, which showed up the same year and made Deep Impact look like 2001: A Space Odyssey scientific accurary-wise.

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MoST

June 10th, 2015

The story of The Last Museum:

I am not at my ranch, nor my Beijing office, nor the lesser office in Brooklyn, but here, back home, in the Old Valley. In a few minutes we'll pull off the highway and into what used to be Pruneridge Shopping Center. I can see the Jobs statue out the window of this car, rising up from the center of the Apple ring.

Pruneridge has gone the way of all physical stores. In its place stands a massive set of overlapping, complex, structurally-interlinked steel polyhedra that required sixty-thousand hours of continuous computer time to model. Ten billion microscopic mirrors catch the light and reflect it in various soothing patterns. There is one mirror per living human on this earth.

This is MoST, the Museum of Social Transformation. It is mine, but soon it will belong to the world.

I will tell you how I got here. […]

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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No scrith required

May 2nd, 2015

What's the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?

Babylon 5 was robbed! Robbed, I tell you!

[Via Laughing Squid]

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Perfect

April 17th, 2015

Matthew Mcconaughey's reaction to Star Wars teaser #2:

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No words

March 13th, 2015

I do wish Martin Belam, in posting about how UsVsTh3m marked the passing of Terry Pratchett, hadn't planted this delightful thought in my brain:

And personally, with Pratchett's death and Leonard Nimoy only recently departed, this has made me realise how deeply Tom Baker's death is going to affect me.

Now I'm thinking about it too, dammit!

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The important thing is that I'm thinking like a founder.

November 26th, 2014

Paul Ford's One Day, I Will Die on Mars:

UPDATE.

I am living a nightmare before lunchtime. First, the sofa delivery people gave me a window of 7 AM to 7 PM, so I'm a prisoner in my own apartment. Second, worse, I am out of cat food, and in consequence my beloved companion Squee has, under the duress of feline starvation, started a brutal ankle-biting campaign. I do not blame him. For Squee, bless his tortoiseshell heart, is a Cat Most Special with Issues of Digestion, and, to maintain his sleek coat and sterling disposition, must only ever eat cat food of great expense, and I am out of it. Simple, you say! Just buy some food! But I cannot leave this abode for fear of missing the sofa. Also: The very smallest bag of said food is a full eighteen ounces too heavy for micro-delivery, which means hand-delivery on a major surge day. And so I have to spend All The Money to get cat food hand-Ubered or risk not obtaining my sofa. My ankles are suffering, friends. I look forward to the healing balm of your supportive replies.

I am Uber. I searched along the many predefined vertices within my system and I found the exact cat food at many warehouses within the New York City area. I knew my node of destination and many potential nodes of departure; I needed now to find an optimal revenue path. […]

[Via kottke.org]

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Me too…

August 8th, 2014

Grootify anything:

Did you ever wish you could just transform any text anywhere on the Internet with "I am Groot"?

Of course you did. Or should.

For what it's worth, I keep seeing people say that Guardians of the Galaxy came out a bit like a Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Firefly/Serenity. Seems to me that it's a much closer match for Farscape:

  • A human hero a long way from home…
  • Who gradually forms a familial bond with a bunch of alien prisoners…
  • Chasing / being chased round a big old universe full of colourful characters…
  • Our Hero keeps on spouting pop culture references and figures of speech that are lost on his companions…
  • Swagger. Lots and lots of swagger.

I'll freely acknowledge that four seasons of TV gave Rockne S O'Bannon and friends way more scope to develop their characters than James Gunn and co. had, but even so I've got to say that Scorpius (and Harvey) was a much more fun villain than Ronan The Accuser or Thanos.1

[Via The Dissolve]

  1. To be fair, I have a good deal of confidence in Marvel that when they finally get round to making Thanos the Big Bad of a whole movie this oh so slow buildup he's been getting will pay off big time. I mean, these are the people who make a blockbuster movie out of Guardians of the Galaxy. If someone had suggested that notion back in 1998 when Blade kicked off the current wave of Marvel film adaptations you'd have laughed in their face at the very idea! At this point, I wouldn't put it past Marvel to deal with their lack-of-a-female-lead-character problem by bringing Squirrel Girl to the big screen. And having her story pull in US$100m on the opening weekend!

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Anvilicious

June 11th, 2014

MeFi user zabuni neatly sums up why some of us have read enough Cory Doctorow novels to last us a lifetime, even if we broadly agree with the political points his books make about the uses and abuses of technology:

I once mocked Doctorow, and said that he wrote EFF fan fiction, he then had his main character (in the sequel to LB) meet the founders of EFF:

At Burning Man.
While playing a game of DnD with them.
DM'ed by Wil Wheaton.

I had to literally say, out loud, "For Fuck's Sake!" to that. […]

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The Kindle wink

April 26th, 2014

Robin Sloan has noticed something interesting about Amazon's 'Manage Your Kindle' web service:

If you own one of Amazon's e-readers, there's a good chance you've accessed the "Manage Your Kindle" page at some point. […]

Do you notice anything strange about that URL? […]

Who is Fiona?

What's fiona? An acronym, perhaps. Functional… Internet-Oriented… Native… Application? File I/O Network Access?

No. It's not a what but a who […]

As it happens I rarely use the web page to manage my Kindle1 so that's my excuse for not having noticed this before now and I'm sticking to it!

  1. I mostly manage my Kindle content through the client software on my iPad or Mac.

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Scattered filmed

April 21st, 2014

Back in 2012 I posted about an Indiegogo project I'd backed to film an adaptation of a Ken MacLeod short story. I'd forgotten all about it, until earlier this evening when I found myself watching Scattered and realised that there was a reason this story seemed so familiar.

MacLeod's short story works rather nicely as a short film, I think. It'd be good to see someone try The Execution Channel or Descent one day. Not as shorts, obviously. But they'd be easier to film cheaply than the MacLeod adaptation I'd really like to see, of the Fall Revolution series.

[Via Pop Loser]

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Lucy

April 2nd, 2014

It's entirely possible that Luc Besson's Lucy, a story of an unwilling drug mule who inadvertently gets dosed with the contents of her package and finds herself gaining what amount to superpowers – will be completely terrible. Goodness knows, the man is a phenomenally uneven director. But then consider how much stylish, pulpy fun his best work has given the world…

.. and contemplate this trailer, and the cast involved …

… and tell me that doesn't look like a pretty fun way to spend a couple of hours of your time.

I know, Besson's best work is mostly back in the 1990s (though I really enjoyed The Extraordinary Adventures… when I finally caught up with it last year) and Morgan Freeman's presence in a film isn't exactly an infallible sign of a quality product, but still. This may not be good, but it sure looks like good fun.1

[Via The Dissolve (again!)]

  1. And yes, the "we only use 10% of the brain" schtick is awful science that would normally make me cringe. But delivered by Morgan Freeman, in the midst of an unhinged Besson action-fest, I'm willing to let it pass.

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Story Of Your Life

April 2nd, 2014

Good news from Hollywood: Amy Adams In Talks To Star In Alien Movie 'Story Of Your Life'

[…] Amy Adams is in early talks to team with Prisoners helmer Denis Villeneuve on Story Of Your Life, the sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Ted Chiang, a top contemporary author in the genre. Scripted by Eric Heisserer, the thriller takes place after alien crafts land around the world. An expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.

Two important points to keep in mind. First, Ted Chiang's story is a lot more interesting and unconventional than that summary makes it sound.1 Second, the role Adams is up for would suit her down to the ground. If the screenwriter and director can translate Chiang's story into something that works on screen, Amy Adams could absolutely find herself finally picking up that elusive Best Actress Oscar.

Or, alternatively, this one goes back into development hell six months from now, Amy Adams gets her reward for another performance, and Ted Chiang never gets to become a household name.2

[Via The Dissolve]

  1. See this old interview with Chiang, published back in 2002 just after his first collection of short stories, including the one that is being adapted for Adams to play in, was published for a sense of how wonderfully varied his work is.
  2. Which, in fairness, would quite possibly be fine by him.

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Time Can Be Rewritten, but is it?

March 6th, 2014

Philip Sandifer's meditation on what The Day of the Doctor tells us about the differing ways Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat see the Doctor is quite fascinating:

As with many fan debates on Tumblr, the immediate fallout of The Day of the Doctor had no shortage of straw men, with people angrily reacting against points that never actually got made. (See also the "legions" of fans who aren't going to watch Peter Capaldi because he's old and unattractive.) Still, there's an interesting fault line that opens up in the question of just how much of a retcon The Day of the Doctor is – one that is revealing in terms of the sorts of details that each argument prioritizes.

Once I've caught up on the comments on his post, I'm going to have to rewatch TDOTD at least one more time and have a think about all this. Good stuff.

[Via The Great Escapism]

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Just Ella

February 8th, 2014

Jim Munroe's short film Just Ella features "perhaps the first cinematic example of autocomplete used for a dramatic reveal." And yet it's still worth watching:

[Via jwz]

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Periodic Table of Storytelling

February 1st, 2014

James R Harris has constructed a Periodic Table of Storytelling and it is awesome.1

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Warning: contains links to TVTropes. Do not follow that link if you had plans to get anything important done in the next three hours.

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'Either put on these glasses or start eatin' that trash can.'

December 21st, 2013

Glass.

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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Itty Bitty Orphan Black

December 15th, 2013

Reading Issue 1 of Itty Bitty Orphan Black's Marvel Babies-style prequel to Orphan Black, I'm torn between thinking how nicely the cartoonist has captured Lil' Cosima, Sarah, Helena and Alison and remembering that according to season 1 of the show they didn't know one another existed when they met as adults so how the hell could they all have gone to school together! I'm trying hard to let the former reaction win out.

Little Orphan Black cast (cast)

If you missed Orphan Black then it's well worth catching up on, not just for Tatiana Maslany's amazing performances as about half of the main cast, but also for the way they kept on piling up the complications across the entire first season and teased so many potentially fun plots for season 2.1 Please let the writers not screw it up in season 2 by losing control of their plot.

[Via The A.V. Club]

  1. Me, I want to know more about what Mrs S was involved in back in the day: I'm damn sure there's more to it than Felix and Sarah know.

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Subject: Re: 'Became a zombie' Life Event

November 22nd, 2013

Benjamin Rosenbaum has posted a sharp, blackly amusing short story about how Facebook's users and software developers would react to a zombie plague breaking out, called Feature Development for Social Networking.

Nice work, even though you just know this story isn't destined to end well for any of the characters.

[Via Subtraction.com]

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Yum!

November 2nd, 2013

When making macarons no one can hear you scream!

Macaron with a little something extra

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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His other time machine…

October 24th, 2013

His other time machine...

If only his TARDIS had a working chameleon circuit, his other time machine could be a DeLorean too…

[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]

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