War of the Worlds

No, not red vs blue, think bigger! In 1898 HG Wells, one of the founding fathers of the Sci-Fi genre “gifted” us with some incredibly imaginative thinking about an alien invasion, bringing a whole new (ahem) alien concept into sharp focus and leaving us howling at whatever planet suited our fancy.
It took the genius of Orson Wells to turn that story into a radio drama in 1939, when his troop of players, the Mercury Theater, performed a live version of it on the air. This time, it was far more realistic. Using cutting edge tech – radio broadcast – and cutting edge techniques – sound effects, live orchestra, inspired performances – he simulated an invasion of Earth by wicked, up-to-no-good Martian invaders, whose advanced weaponry promptly flattened our puny defenses, dispatching with great swaths of humanity, as on-scene reporters, bystanders and military brass helplessly intoned the bad news in real time.  One of the coolest concepts that gave the show a more believable bent was to use …

Film Commentary: Logan and Bladerunner -- Bleak vs Bleak

OK, we all know that the future is loaded with tons and tons of dark, somber grays and blacks and midnight blues with smoke and fog and haze wafting through, to cover the sheer devastation of a shiny future turned dystopic because, well, it’s inevitable, right? Right – so let us entertain you! 
Two films exemplify dissimilar shades of that bleak spectrum: “Logan” and “Blade Runner". United in their agreement on the coming Bleakness, they diverge immediately in execution. But first, their similarities. 
Both films present beat-down protagonists, exhausted from their physical and mental battles, questioning their worth, their effectiveness and the meaning of their pathetic lives. Logan, the exhausted X-Man, must summon the strength to triumph over a seemingly endless variety of bad-to-the-bone dudes. And Bladerunner’s “K” must risk the enmity of his superiors in wrestling his conscience into doing what’s right, outside of party lines. 
Both men find themselves in thoroughly unplea…

Another Kind of Immortality

There's ample evidence and research indicating that it's just a matter of time before virtual entertainment becomes virtual living. How far out are we from being able to step into a world that is so perfectly generated, it becomes real to us and as it does, more and more compelling?

We're already bored with the early mind-blowing attempts that brought this unfolding tech to the forefront. Occulus Rift seems a lightyear ago, with Augmented Reality such a compelling second step. But the case for Fully Virtual is incredibly alluring.
To be able to step into a world designed for your personal use, edification, advancement and pleasure isn't just attractive, it's being madly developed in tech centers from San Francisco to Tel Aviv. And as it moves towards a functional reality, another parallel track will follow. Perhaps sometime later, but with utter certainty. Virtual Life. And with it, virtual immortality.
In Richard Morgan's barn-storming scifi detective novel &q…

On Auto

So I'm cruising along at 350, enjoying some big puffy cumulous formations and breathing some sweet pistachio synth air, when Boom, the dash starts flashing bright enough to wake you out of a chem dream, the car screams to a mid-air halt and a blue'n'white floats over with a sour-faced cop in the window.
"Sir, may I see your bios and lightband?"
"Uh, sure, officer, what seems to be the trouble?"
"Sir, were you aware that you were altering your cloud course through that last bank?"
"Alter... Officer, I was just admiring the view when..."
"We have a heat impression of both your hands ON the steering stick."
"Well, I was just resting them for a moment, I mean, it's a beautiful day and..."
"Sir, when was the last time you texted during this flight?"
"Tex... I, I was just in touch with my friend about the party on Rexus9, and HE was saying..."
"Your transmit log indicates that conversation w…

Wonder Woman and SciFi Mythology

Finally got around to seeing Wonder Woman, the movie. Well, actually, hung with Wonder Woman herself, as well, but read on.  First, on the way back from a trip overseas, the film was available on demand to watch from my seat on the plane and I began it there, only to realize that for something this big and this good, dealing with a low res print on an 8” screen with the engine noise a constant component of the soundtrack wasn’t going to work, so I switched to a Bollywood musical instead (which was pretty cool!).  Day after arriving home, we got an invitation to a press screening for awards consideration – nice timing, which featured a Q&A with the director and several members of the cast, including Gal Gadot – who could resist that?  If you haven’t seen it, no spoilers, I promise. Instead, these thoughts about effect, focus and our current culture.  First, it’s about as good as a superhero film gets. Which begs the question: why? And that’s where mythology comes in. My problem wi…

Wake me When We Get There

There was a fascinating article somewhere (that’s the problem these days –there’s so much info everywhere, it blurs together) about the realities of long-term space travel. Which means what?
Look, the thing is, for the foreseeable future, we’re going to get to places like Mars or Titan (Saturn’s most promising life-possibility moon) in the coming generation or two and by scifi standards, it’s gonna take forever-ish. Seven months each way to Mars, years and years to Titan. Wanna go? Think of what a hero you’d be on Earth. If you made it. Or didn’t. Or actually managed to get there and return in say, 40 years. Who knows, if you travelled fast enough, you might even come back younger! And wouldn’t that be a great thing to mull over with all that free time in space?
So to the practical. As of the latest science, you can’t simply seal yourself up in a pod and chemically induce some kind of suspended animation and wake up refreshed and ready to go 7 years later, as the ship’s AI calmly inf…

Where was the future in the year 1700?

From all the info I can gather, science fiction got its more or less official start in the early 1800’s with the appearance of one Dr. Frankenstein. Written by Mary Shelly in 1811, it basically crowned her the Mother of Science Fiction. Try smoking that one, guys…
But prior to that, we have a distinct lack of evidence of anything quite so fanciful and a big part of the reason is, in my mind at least, for lack of things electric. Oh, there were drawings from Galileo – fantastical ones – and a great TV series based on his life as well. But story telling? Not so much. You need to have some basic understanding of possibility in order to dream in scifi and without having any clear concept of propulsion, for instance, how are you gonna get there?
It looks like it may have taken the industrial revolution to get the wheels turning, from laying powerful railroad systems around the world, to great migrations into the cities, factories, efficiency, suffering and overcrowding – the kinds of conc…