Suspend Me, Part Deux

You wanna make the 7-month “hop” to Mars? We’ve determined ‘tis a far better thing to sleep through the trip than to look out the window. So let’s get practical.
There you are, ready for the Long Dream (hope it’s a good one), looking fine in your futuristic metrosexual undies, trusting your space-mates to take good care. Now what? 
Here’s the latest thinking (for real):
First, you get taped up for heart rhythm, blood pressure, oxygen levels, etc. Next, you get a sedative to knock you out, followed by a lowering of your body temperature to below hyporthermia levels. Now an intravenous anticoagulant line is inserted, that helps prevent things like blood clots, so you don’t like, die, in your sleep. You eat via a feeding tube shoved down your throat. Sexy, right? About a thousand calories of slurry per day. A suite of waste collection tubes and inserts whisks all your unmentionables away (Wait, WHO inserts and adjusts those…?) And finally -- and this is the surprising part – a helpful crew …

Suspend Me

Remember the movie “Passengers” from a year or two back? It’s a couple hundred years in the future and big space-liners are ferrying hundreds of humans to a new Eden-like planet that takes, I dunno, a hundred years in Earth time to get to, so everyone mounts their hibernation pods for a big sleep, so they can wake up relaxed and refreshed when they arrive.
Nice concept.
Meanwhile, back here in Earth-bound labs, there’s serious science at a furious pace getting done on this persuasion, simply in preparation for our coming shuttles to Mars, a mere 34 million miles out. Both scientists and shrinks are concerned about how we’ll deal with 7 months of pitch-black window views in a tin can livingroom, twiddling collective thumbs whilst we hurdle towards the red orb at a mere 18K mph.
And rightly so. Look no farther than the panic in people’s eyes when they wander into an earth-bound space with no cell reception: Wait: whaaaaat? Now multiply that by seven months and throw in doses of exponentia…

Star Trek, the Last Voyage

In 1976, just at the end of their first season, the cast did an extended Star Trek skit which few people will remember. It’s remarkable in multiple ways. First, of course, it features John Belushi as Captain Kirk, with Chevy Chase as Spock and Dan Aykroyd playing McCoy. Given that, we know we’ve got great talent on the stage. The first thing that’s so striking is the combination of their age and weight. Both Aykroyd and Belushi were relatively svelte in contrast to the way they both overindulged over the ensuing seasons. And the audience is appreciative but hardly wild about their entrances on set. It’s just the first season, after all.
Then comes the skit itself, clocking in at 12 minutes in length – wonderfully over-written! And evocative of a different era when long dialog and single camera shots were the norm. This whole thing would’ve been a tight 5:30 had it run even ten years ago.
What we get, though, is a very apparent set of building blocks that become the bones of those SNL …

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…