Besides writing science fiction, I’m a longtime fan and cheerleader for the field. I’ve always thought that SF was, all things considered, a “Good Thing” for people to read. It offers a fresh perspective on human/non-human nature and behavior played out in a whole range of possible realms/worlds/societies/big honkin’ spaceships. It’s great at presenting all sorts of rarely considered angles/satire/parody/what-ifs re: the human condition refracted thru all sorts of mirrors. What could be cooler?
But I recently came across a really intriguing post from Auxilliary Memory that considers a deeply interesting question about the entire genre, and one that I’d never thought about before: is science fiction damaging the impact of REAL science in our lives and on our planet? It’s a provocative, very well thought out piece. I’m still thinkin’ it over.
The post’s writer (Jim Harris) cites The Merchants of Doubt as a good overview of how junk science is being promoted, to decidedly ill effect, in our society, and how SF feeds into that. The book may have to be my next read…
South Pole vortex, Titan. Image: NASA/Cassini
… aaaaaand…. here’s the weather report from Titan. The weather. On Titan. Just an amazing thing to casually run across online while having morning tea. That’s all.
So…here we have…the Dinosaurs vs Aliens Motion Comic. Hmmm.
It’s Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld and comic book great Grant Morrison’s unlikely mash up of what has to be two of the surest bets in the realms of pop-culture/kid-in-all-of-us entertainment icon-ery. No idea what the concept part of the high concept is here… like, why would dinos go to the trouble of defending Earth from alien invaders (other than eating any that went walking around poking allosaurs with sticks). And then beyond that, what sort of advanced-techy sort of alien culture would be likely to cobble together starships but then forget to bring their giant, disruptor-ray-spouting howitzers with them? You know, nit-picky stuff like that. Anyway, here’s the minimalist trailer via sfsignal. Doesn’t answer my questions… So, can they pull off this “Hey! You spilled aliens on my tyranosaurus!” confection? Guess we’ll see.
A number of soft, easily-captured-immobilized-broasted-and-eaten humans with a vested interest have been thinking, furiously it seems, about the down-in-the-weeds details of how our first contact with an alien intelligence might go. And some of our sage-est of sage elders (as in S. Hawking) think things could go very pear-shaped. Really fast.
Let’s review: first, get the in-depth overview from the boffins (love that word) at NASA and a couple of leading American universities in this exhaustive paper, with the no-nonsense-whatsoever title: “Would Contact with Extraterrestrials Benefit or Harm Humanity? A Scenario Analysis.”
For a handy general consideration of the issue, there’s this at Discovery.com: “Do Aliens Exist? If So, Will They Kill Us?” Always a pertinent question. So, you’re wondering, other than simply because they’re voracious, predatory, vaguely-insectoid-or-squidlike-bad-asses-with-no-moral-compass-and-an-appetite-for-hairless-monkey, why would any advanced, star-tripping, alien race WANT to do unto us in such an ill-mannered manner? Well you should ask. Discovery again has a nice, bite-sized (so to speak) summary for you. Turns out, there are several very good reasons an otherwise benign, enlightened gaggle of off-worlders would want to smoosh us Earthers before we spread beyond the Solar System. Jeesh. And E.T. seemed like such a swell little guy….
So… what’s been unveiled as the hottest-yet-coolest category of books we’d all be ever-so-sorry to miss out on this summer? According to the velvet-voiced and very bright people at National Public Radio (jazzy drum roll, please), it’s…
…Young Adult Fiction, of course.
In fact, this coveted shelf in your library/ bookstore/Kindle-screen is so very smokin’ hot that NPR has selected YA fic as the spotlighted focus of their annual summer readers’ poll. A poll? you say. Yes. With voting and all. So, if you’ve got a favorite readable, zip on over to the NPR Books zone and express yourself (you can nominate five faves, either single titles or series). You’ll note that even the exalted wise-guys at NPR struggle, as do many of us, with a nailed-down definition of just precisely what constitutes YA, but they promise to herd together a scrum of experts and elbow-patch-wearing-know-it-alls to pin that semantic sucker down. So, go on with ya, head over to NPR and tell the world what title(s) rule your 12-to-18-year-old reading realm. Then, check back here later & I’ll let you know if the rest of the YA-book-loving-universe agrees with you. (You are curious, aren’t you?)
A Dutch company has been formed to send volunteers to establish a settlement on Mars by the year 2023. The company’s recent press releases inform us that the colonists’ adventure would be filmed and broadcast back to Earth as part of a new reality TV series. Profits from the global airing of the show would help fund the project. One detail: these settlers would not be coming back to Earth, but would stay permanently on Mars. Hoax? Delusion? Strange PR stunt for some other undertaking entirely? Hard telling, but here’s the website for Mars One, the group of people that includes among its number a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. The company spokesperson, with a very straight face, says they’ve put together a business plan that will let them accomplish this multi-billion-buck interplanetary Exo-Big-Brother in a series of steps that culminate in landing the first four Earthlings on the Red Planet within the next dozen years.
After the initial “what the frack?” response, the scheme conjures up eerie echoes of a short-lived TV series called Defying Gravity – wherein a small group of astronauts is launched on a mission to the planets. En route, they have their every act recorded for a documentary film that’s vital to the funding of the mission. By the time the series got yanked, most of the crew was hallucinating like mad and no one was getting much science done. There was also an odd plot device about some kind of libido-suppression drug they were all issued which, of course, certain scoff-law astronauts refused to use-as-instructed.
In any case, it’ll be entertaining to see if the Mars One gang is serious, and if they can actually line up partners for their epic, aka crazy-as-over-caffeinated-weasels, idea. We’ll be thrilled… and stunned… to report on any progress.
Science fiction & fantasy book covers, magazine illustrations and film posters are some of the most reliably awesome well-springs of artwork that, well… that you just won’t see anywhere else. Every year, the Chesley Awards spotlight the alien/elvish goodness of the artists who fire up our imaginations (and our consumer impulses…) with their creations. The Chesleys are divvied out by the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists – and here are some of last year’s nominees over at i09. A gorgeous assortment of unearthly strangeness and beauty!