Sunday, February 27, 2005

Media Madness Monday

Well, it's been more than a month now since I introduced my last gimmicky theme, so I'm obviously overdue (by this time next year, I'll be wishing a happy 100th birthday to little old ladies named "Gladys," and giving £5 to anyone who spots me on the street and says the magic phrase).

First off, it looks like even things which never started must someday come to an end, as last December's reports of a new Babylon 5 theatrical movie, to be called The Memory of Shadows, has been superseded by this February's cold blast of bad news from JMS, that financing for the deal has fallen through for good, and there will be no movie.

On to a quick bit of cinematic sport: Halle Berry became, to my knowledge, only the second person to ever show up to accept a Razzie Award in person (the first was Showgirls writer Joe Eszterhas), when she picked up her Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, for the execrable Catwoman.

Some news on the DVD front: The 2004 remake of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed now has a R1 DVD release date of May 5. There's no word on a R2 release date yet, but I don't want to hear any whinging at all from a region that is getting both The Ascent of Man and Civilisation on DVD in April.

And speaking of That Region Beyond The Seas, one of the most interesting bits of movie news I've heard in a while concerns a new movie, starring James Purefoy and Natalie Portman, which, for obvious reasons, is scheduled to open on Friday, the Fourth of November. It'll be one to Remember, that's for sure.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ook

Ah, the perfect start to a Fan Fiction Friday: Slashdot sez that a group of German Terry Pratchett fans have finished a fan film adaptation of Lords and Ladies, with all proceeds going to the Orangutan Foundation.

They have trailers online, although at the moment the servers hosting them have been rendered into their component atoms by the mighty force of fandom. For some mythical later date when they might return, however, here are links to the English trailer, the German trailer, and a quick scene with Cohen the Barbarian. For those who can't wait, there's also a Swedish mirror site for the English trailer, as well as a Bittorrent link.


But wait! That's not all! The part of the story which Slashdot missed (well, until I posted a message about it on the thread, at least) is that Lords and Ladies is not the only PTerry "Discworld" film nearing completion: LSpace has information about a group of Aussie filmmakers who are nearly finished with a film adaptation of the Discworld short story "Troll Bridge." Terry even wrote some new dialogue for the script.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Just one more pick at the 'Tics, oh pleeeease

Bestest visual comment ever on the WB fever-dream. (By Matthew Hunter on Golden Age Cartoons, hosts of the annual Design An Ugly Video Cover contest.)

My Daddy Was A TV / My Mommy Was A Magazine

Yeah, it's been one of those months, hasn't it? Hunter's gone, and we're not feeling so great ourselves. The house is a mess, you haven't cooked a decent meal in days, every third thing you write down reads like a keyboard mash, and who makes this stuff you're watching? Because it's dreadful. You need a drink. You need a whole fleet of drinks.

Or, rather, you need happy Alisin music. Vampires? We got 'em. Brain eating? Yep. Death by cuddly, radioactive space rock? Oh, yes.

For despairing moments without whiskey, Wednesday recommends the B-movie-inspired punkabilly goth act Zombina and the Skeletones. (It's true. She was totally talking to someone last night and saying, "I know. You need to hear Zombina and the Skeletones!") The MP3s require registration with SoundClick.

(DISCLAIMER: Wednesday is not a goth. She also recommends the use of whiskey, but not as much as the use of a good cabernet shiraz and a nice lie down.)

Groundroast Day

From Greg Stephens' Zwol comes this glorious story of an enterprising group of individuals who weren't afraid to demonstrate that Starbucks, being environmentally enlightened, is now going so far as to recycle even space-time and linear causality itself!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

How to Destroy the World

From Claude Muncey, via Electrolite, comes this Must Read Primer for the Mad Scientist who is not afraid to dream big.


The good advice doesn't just extend to the planning and implementation stages, either: "Take a camera. Most of the methods listed above are incredibly spectacular and witnessing them will probably be once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you, so remember to capture the moment."

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Into the Garbage Chute, Felineboy

This Tuesday, for a change of pace, I thought I'd share a funny animal story with you.

Today's remarkable true-life tale of derring-do comes our way courtesy of Dr. Patricia Schroeder, Blues scholar and Professor of English at Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA (which, frankly, sounds like the kind of place you'd expect Professor Utonium to be from). Like our other animal tales, this one involves lovable pets, delicious food, and wanton household destruction.

Our story begins one night in the spring of 1999, with an innocent meal of smoked salmon...

One Door Closes...

Almost missed in the hubbub about Enterprise's cancellation was the likely-- but by no means certain-- announcement of Galactica's continued life. Slashdot discusses.

On the other hand, will Nintendo's ownzoring of Sci-Fi lead to problems with content?

Normal/abnormal dichotomy. I've been saying this for years...

Christie Davies sez this is Mapplethorpe doing SF illustration. (Work-safe.)

"Pleez, Joss! Pretty pleez! I'll be yor best frend!" I think the funniest thing about this story is how Wonder Woman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are both "a kind of female superhero character." I mean, they're female and they're superheroes, but one's a normal teenybopper cheerleader with a Destiny, the other is a royal ambassador from a Land of Better-Than-We-Are. Extended conversation between them would be awkward. But y'know, they both punch and kick.

Or maybe Joel meant Emma Frost?

Monday, February 21, 2005

There's Still Room on T Campbell's Amazon Wish List

What better time than Jeri Ryan's 37th birthday to mention that Season One of Star Trek: Enterprise arrives on DVD May 3 (in other words, just about the same time that Season Cancelled reverses its final polarity).

In the Future, Rocket-Powered Geese Will Kill Each Other For Tuition

Anime News Network posts Media Blasters' Katsucon license announcements. (Oh! My Even More Belldandy. Whee?) Interesting note: Toei are, by that account, sitting on the Battle Royale films.

(Which, uh, exist as legit, highly shiny, region 0 DVDs over here in England, BTW. At least the first one does. You know, in case you're still curious.)

Beyond 2772

Getting away from Loonatics for a bit, I've recently rediscovered Technorati, and through it, found two SF-related tidbits from Wired.

Bruce Sterling on the latest intersection of architecture and robotics: the viab.

Biohybridism for those who've lost a limb. Way better than Vic Stone's deal.

Coping Sucks

My nervous breakdown is now firmly in progress. You're welcome.

Bleeding Edge Animation

The irrepressible Chex gets on the Loonatics' case, and reveals their fatal design flaw. If the episodes end with group hugs there'll be trouble. Talking of trouble, if WB names their leader "Buzz Bunny" as reported, well... I wouldn't Google the name at work if I were you.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hot from our "News That Hasn't Happened... Yet" Department

Fwak imagines a further all-too-possible mutation of the Warner toon crew:

Loonateens!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Making Everything Worthwhile

Bandai have the R1 (at least) rights to Go Nagai's fantastic silent giant cuddly robot anime, Robonimal Panda-Z. Ten bucks says Beez have the R2/Europe rights and Madman will have picked up the R4s.

To my mind, this is the best thing to come out in the past year. CUTE PANDAS.

The State Has No Place In the Fanfic of the Nation

Sailor Hellblazer he mentions, which is right and proper.

But must we think about Constantine, all of us? Some of us need distraction. Sovereignty-Associationist Girl Nanami, or its sequel, Le prince des roses de Mont-Royal? The only known crossover between Utena and Quebecois separatist politics? That'll distract us.

F.M. Busby (1921-2005)

Victor Gonzalez' Trufen.net is reporting that Francis Marion Busby died yesterday afternoon in Seattle of intestinal problems, and complications from multiple surgeries to correct them.

Like many of his contemporaries, "Buz" made his mark in Fandom before going on to a successful career as a writer; and, along with his wife, Elinor, remained active in Fandom for the rest of his life. He and Elinor, along with Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber, edited Cry of the Nameless, the legendary fanzine of "The Nameless Ones" (Seattle Fandom in the 1950s and 1960s); they were also closely involved with Seacon, the 1961 Worldcon in Seattle.

Cry won the Hugo Award for "Best Fanzine" in 1960 — ironically, the only Hugo Award which he ever won, despite such memorable novels as Cage a Man, All These Earths, The Alien Debt, The Long View, and others in his "Rissa Kerguelen" series. He was also responsible for some excellent short stories, including "Getting Home" and "If This Is Winnetka, You Must Be Judy."

Further information, including funeral and memorial details, should be available later on his CaringBridge patient web page. His CaringBridge page also has a guestbook where well-wishers can leave their thoughts and condolences.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Encroachment.

More on Loonatics.

Fan Fiction Friday, John Constantine Edition

The miracle is not that someone wrote a Hellblazer/Buffy crossover, or a Hellblazer/The Vampire Lestat crossover; those are practically mandatory. Having Cancer Man try to use John Constantine as a go-between for a shady deal is clever, and Krychek/Constantine slash is unusual, but X-Files crossovers aren't exactly unheard-of in fanfic circles, either, are they? And anyway, Ethan Rayne/John Constantine makes a lot more sense as a slash pairing.

Putting John Constantine at Hogwart's is also a bit obvious, what with Tim Hunter, and all: but when it leads to things like Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor Constantine's list of "Things I Am Not Allowed To Do Any More at Hogwart's" ("28. 'Ten points from Gryffindor' is an acceptable form of discipline. 'Peeves? I'd like you to do something for me' is not"), who could possibly complain?

Other bits of British television also get their turn: Sometimes it's Mr. Steed and Emma Peel crossing paths with John Constantine; sometimes it's Doctor Who and his various companions who have the honor.

But all of this is still too normal, after its own fashion; too expected. We're talking about John Constantine, here! When you want to write about him, you've got to Bring the Weird. Twin Peaks is always worth a few weird points, but it's still not unexpected. If you sat down with a pad of paper and made a chart of all the media properties that you could drop John Constantine into, you'd have listed all of these at some point already.

Let's go off the charts, instead, now: Teaming John Constantine with TV psychic John Edwards (a Crossing Over crossover?) is a powerful step in the right direction; and dropping him into a Warren Zevon song that isn't "Werewolves of London" is a stroke of genius.

But beyond genius lies madness, and that is my preferred destination. For that is where you will find the terrible beauty of the John Constantine/Oh My Goddess! crossovers. Yes, crossovers. Plural. Including a musical.

After all that, who would balk at Sailor Hellblazer? I certainly wouldn't.

In fact, I'd probably scream, "Again! Again!"

Now Bring Back Pulp

Via about a half dozen different places: veteran North American anime glossy Animerica ends its newsstand run this June, shifting to distribution solely at anime conventions.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Now We Know Why Buffy Went to Rome

What with Constantine opening to wildly divergent reviews (the Tomatometer, appropriately enough, is balanced at the moment precisely between Heav'n and Hell at 50%), what better time could there be to discover that Regina Apostolorum, the Vatican's Pontifical Academy, is currently holding advanced classes on Satanism, demonic posession, and the occult.
Thursday's lecturer, Rev. Gabriele Nanni, touched on the pitfalls of driving the devil from someone's body.

Priests must never be proud of their ability, remembering that they are merely conduits of Christ, he said. They must not perform exorcisms on people they suspect have psychological problems. And they should not get carried away and invent mystical gestures.
Wooden stakes, sarcastic quips, broad puns and ironic pop-culture references are presumably Right Out, then.

Enterprise, you are still loved

(Apologies for the appalling lousy byline... ) Enterprise fans at TrekUnited.com are attempting to raise $35 million to fund another season of the show.

In other news: a warped and unfortunately real-life version of the Siren myth has been playing out in the British Lake District.

Skin Care Ideas From Bed Bathory and Beyond

Now that our extra-special All-Wednesday Wednesday festivities have concluded, let me share with you today's entry in the "Life Imitates Art" competition:
SPIKE: Blood is life, lack-brain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps you going. Makes you warm. Makes you hard. Makes you other than dead.

Blood®: It does a body good.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A World Of No

Set on a spaceship in 2772, the upcoming Warner Brothers cartoon Loonatics features "...angular, slightly menacing-looking versions of the classic Looney Tunes characters..."

Black and yellow Bugs/Buzz Bunny tops michaelbarrier.com as of this writing.

Yay, More Schodt

Via Comics Reporter: This interview with Frederik Schodt, though mostly about Native American in the Land of the Shogun, also touches on his work with Osamu Tezuka's manga and the Mobile Suit Gundam novels.

Squee As Appropriate

J. Michael Straczynski wanted to do new Trek. Instead, he's doing a new, unrelated TV series for 2006.

I think we win either way.

Marvin Voice Now

Fansub BitTorrent listing site AnimeSuki aren't pulling their torrents for Naruto yet. [EDIT 11PM GMT: Now they have. Leaving the rest of the entry intact, because... yeah.]

And here [was] the justification, as posted:
Naruto "licensed" by ShoPro Entertainment
On February 15th ShoPro Entertainment announced it was appointed the main licensor for Naruto in the USA. This has lead many to claim Naruto has been licensed. However AnimeSuki sees ShoPro only as a middle-man and not an anime company which releases anime themselves. As such we're not marking it licensed yet. Please note that this situtation may change at any time. Also the ShoPro "license" means Naruto is now much more likely to be licensed in the US, especially by VIZ.
( to clearify: this means ShoPro can now sell the rights to Naruto to another US anime company and until they'll do, we consider Naruto still unlicensed )
Er.

By way of contrast: In recent months, we've begun to see action from the Japanese companies themselves, via Media Factory's cease-and-desist orders against fansub groups and torrent listing sites handling their work. I suppose one might be forgiven for not completely grasping the logic involved here, and one might also wonder just exactly when the C&D letters from ShoPro will be sent. [EDIT: And will they come before or after the show debuts on Cartoon Network US?]

But... eh. For the rest of us, Amazon have posted the trailer for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on their front page. Where is the delightful voice of Alan Rickman?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Small Tail Tuesday

Well, the first Tall Tale Tuesday featured California mystics of the OTO. Our second was a funny animal story. Last week, it was back to California and the OTO again. So now, obviously, I am required by law to bring you a funny animal story, involving rodents, fruit, and lots of funny destruction. With cute pictures, of course.

If I can ever find a funny story about Aleister Crowley's pet duck, I can cause two weeks to happen at the same time, bringing about The End! of! Time! Itself!

Bwah ha ha ha ha.

Ten bucks says they were waiting to finish the merger.

ShoPro Entertainment have announced North and Latin American rights to Naruto, an anime popular enough in samizdat distribution to merit its own convention plans.

EDIT: And, of course, Viz LLC -- with whom ShoPro have merged -- hold the US manga rights. So, really, no shock.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Jack Chalker (1944–2005) [updated, Feb. 14]

UPDATE: Memorial Details Below

[from Feb. 11]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America web site is reporting that Jack Chalker passed away at 11:12 AM this morning in Baltimore, MD, of complications from congestive heart failure. In addition to his many popular books in the "Well of Souls" series and stand-alone novels such as And the Devil Will Drag You Under, he was a three-time Treasurer of the SFWA.

He and his wife of more than twenty years, Eva C. Whitley, were also both very active in SF Fandom, participating both on-line and in person, including his stints as Toastmaster of the 1983 WorldCon and co-chair of Discon II, the 1974 WorldCon. He is also credited with co-creating the term "SMOF".

He is survived by Eva and two sons, David Whitley Chalker and Steven Lloyd Chalker. He is also survived by a great many books that have given pleasure to a great many readers.




Eva Whitley has posted memorial details on her LiveJournal, to which I have, for the sake of convenience, added hopefully appropriate hyperlinks (and one parenthetical phone number):
"A Memorial Service for Jack will be held on Monday, February 21 from 7-9 PM at The Marzullo Funeral Chapel, 6009 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21214." [410-254-5201]

"A special room rate has been arranged under 'Chalker Funeral' with the Best Western Hotel and Conference Center at the Baltimore Travel Plaza, 5625 O'Donnell Street, Baltimore, MD 21224. They can be contacted for reservations at (410) 633-9500 or 800-633-9511."

"In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted at the Sierra Club, Save the Bay/Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund."

Leave it to veteran conrunners to negotiate a room rate at the hotel. It's not too hard to view this as like being sent off with a convention, which is pretty cool.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Young Martian from Woking

But very early in the morning poor Ogilvy, who had seen the shooting star and who was persuaded that a meteorite lay somewhere on the common between Horsell, Ottershaw, and Woking, rose early with the idea of finding it. Find it he did, soon after dawn, and not far from the sand pits. An enormous hole had been made by the impact of the projectile, and the sand and gravel had been flung violently in every direction over the heath, forming heaps visible a mile and a half away.



And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand.



Before the Martians landed at Grovers Mill or Bayonne, New Jersey, they landed in Woking, on Horsell Common. So how cool was it that, to celebrate the centenary of the publication of War of the Worlds, the Woking Borough Council decided to commission some Martians?

I don't know about you, but I think that most city centers (or centres, even) could benefit from the addition of some shiny death machines (here in Atlanta, we use automobiles). Heck, the Woking Borough Council went all out, and even included a tribute to the hero of the story.

There! Now you have something else to see the next time you go on a pilgrimage to Paul Weller's boyhood home.

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Greatest Stories Ever Told

I'm stepping a bit outside the bounds of what most people consider "fanfic" today, to look at some bits of fan fiction which are not based on any kind of famous media properties or bestselling novels.

First, let us recall the cautionary tale of Atlanta Nights, the collaborative effort at sustained and deliberate awfulness promulgated as a sting operation by a dedicated group of SF authors and experts. Upon returning from the ER, many readers of this work have wished that they could share their own stories of these fascinating characters with their fellow victimfans.

Well, never fear! The chance is now available to touch others as you, yourself, have been touched, with the Travis Tea fanfic site. And when you read these offerings, it is immediately clear that the people writing them truly are touched.

Another feature of the fanfic page is the missing Chapter 21, tragically omitted from the book during its original publication. And speaking of tragic omissions, there is none more famous in the field of SF fandom than the lost final chapter of that immortal classic, "The Eye of Argon". Written by the late St. Louis fan Jim Theis in 1970, it hit SF fandom like a face full of mackerel, with public readings quickly becoming a de rigeur event at finer SF cons.

But there was an otter in the ointment: The text of "The Eye of Argon," lovingly transcribed from issue 10 of OSFAN, the journal of the Ozark SF Society, was missing its final chapter. As a result, the thrilling story of Grignr the Ecordian ends abruptly with the line, "The jelly like mass began to bubble like a vat of boiling tar as quavers passed up and down its entire form."

And then, in the January 2005 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction, came word that a complete copy of OSFAN 10 had turned up in the Jack Williamson Science Fiction Library at Eastern New Mexico University. The very next month, issue 198 of NYRSF carried the text of the lost ending of this immortal work, which can now be read, in its fully-restored glory, on web site of the UK SF Archive.

No, no, that's okay. You can thank me later.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

$2 Anime

MovieLink has increased their downloadable content to include a number of SF and fantasy anime works. In particular, the post-apocalyptic action/adventure Dominion Tank Police and the critically lauded post-apocalyptic drama A Wind Named Amnesia are available. Prices range from $2 to $5. Note that Movielink is a Windows-only service at the moment.

"The Greatest Science Fiction Story Ever Written!"

And other SF matches from one of Google's newest toys.

Just fun.

If We Have to Turn Down That Logan Kid, I'm Letting You Write the Letter

From the invaluable McSweeney's comes this touching selection of rejection letters from Xavier's School for Exceptional Youth.

Also, as an added bonus, the Secret History of Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Heh Heh Heh. Bwah Ha Ha Ha!

Perhaps it's because I've been reading Shaenon Garrity's Narbonic book, but I find that I've been thinking about Jack Parsons a lot lately. Part of that dates back to my first "Tall Tale" post, where he scored a parenthetical mention; but the main factor was my sudden realization that, despite the prevalence of the concept in science fiction and spy novels, Jack Parsons was, as far as I can tell, the only actual example ever of a Mad Scientist Attempting to Destroy the World.

Admittedly, his attempt to destroy the world involved sexual rituals rather than weapons of mass destruction; and the destruction that he was attempting was a creative destruction, wherein the old Reality would be swept away and supplanted by a New! Improved! Reality!®, as opposed to a, well, destructive destruction; but still, he was a Mad Scientist, and he was trying to Destroy the World. No one else that I can think of has ever really met both of those criteria.

So here's the kicker: The entire course of human history has produced only one Mad Scientist Attempting to Destroy the World, right? So what are the odds that L. Ron Hubbard, of all people, would be the person responsible for preventing Parsons from completing his experiments? With the shrewd tactical insight for which he would later become justifiably famous, he accomplished this feat by the simple expedient of leaving town with a vital component of Parsons' experiments by the name of "Betty,"* as well as a vital component of Parsons' bank accounts called "cash" — still, who are we to quibble with his methods?

For his part, Parsons eventually decided that he could quibble, at least to the extent of chasing the couple down in Miami — only to discover that they had set sail just ahead of his arrival on the Dianne, one of the three boats they had purchased with his money.

At that point, Parsons did what any sensible person would do: He performed a full invocation to "Bartzabel" inside a consecrated circle in his hotel room.

Once the freak storm that ripped the sails of the Dianne to shreds had passed, and Hubbard had limped the boat back into port, Parsons invoked some really terrifying creatures: lawyers. Parsons sued Hubbard to recover two of the boats; Hubbard eventually sold the third, the Dianne. He also eventually married Betty; although it appears that he may have accidentally neglected the minor preliminary step of divorcing his first wife, Polly, beforehand (...which would make him a Pollygamist, right?). Well, who can keep track of all those little details, anyway?

As for Jack Parsons, he returned to California, where, in 1948, he changed his name to the undeniably euphonious "Belarion Armiluss Al Dajjal AntiChrist." Prior to that, he had married the elemental soul mate he had conjured, Marjorie Cameron. They never did succeed in conceiving the cosmic "moonchild" who was to have been the end-product of Parsons' and Hubbard's complicated ritual; after his death in 1952 (in one of those pesky "blowed up the lab full of explosive chemicals" accidents that happens to all of us from time to time), she went on to star (with Anaïs Nin!) in Hollywood Babylon author Kenneth Anger's mystical experimental film classic, Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, as well as appearing with her friend Dennis Hopper in the 1961 mermaid thriller Night Tide.

No one's quite sure what became of that Hubbard fellow afterwards.


...And given that this all took place in California in the 1940s, am I alone in thinking that there's a fantastic Angel fanfic waiting to be written here? Or should I just wait until Friday for that?



* Her real name was Sara Northrup, and she called herself "Betty," which, obviously, implies that everyone knew her as Nancy.

Yay Things

In an era where independent bookstores can still struggle in the brick and mortar environment, particularly niche bookshops, Toronto's Bakka is moving back to bustling Queen West because it needs more room. It's a science fiction and fantasy bookstore, and it needs more room! (This one's so worth the boingboing guilt. Bakka was all kinds of solace when I moved to Toronto from Chicago and missed Stars Our Destination like crazy.)

Wil Wheaton's going to be on CSI. Geek victory! And he must be playing evil, because he'll have to have a beard.

Still no sign of Kate Bush, but I'm on it. Inasmuch as it's possible to be on it.

NASA scientists interviewed for anime release

I remember sitting down, bleary-eyed, in a sparsely-populated room at an anime con last year. It was early Sunday morning, the con was nearly over, and everyone was clearly exhausted. A staff member tried to play some anime, but the file was corrupted and would only play at about two frames per second. Finally he just let it play.

Everyone was transfixed. For the next hour, nobody moved.

We were watching Planetes, and it was something I've long dreamed of: hard SF anime. This is a show about space suits and inertia and zero gravity and maneuvering rockets. This is a show about everything NASA wants to be. Morever, it's perfectly suited to anime's distinctive animation style.

Now, Anime News Network has announced that the upcoming U.S. DVD release of Planetes will include interviews with scientists working in NASA's Orbital Space Debris Section, just like the cast of the show. The first three DVDs of the six-volume DVD release will contain these interviews.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Butter Dimension Rebuttered

Jeffrey Rowland's new comic starts today. Wigu Tinkle may have outgrown Magical Adventures In Space, but I sure haven't. :)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Pull of the Bush

Various generally reputable media sources are reporting that Kate Bush will release a new studio album, possibly as early as March. Of this year.

Now, I could try to tie this in to Science Fiction by discussing "Experiment IV" or "Cloudbusting," but, really, why bother? We're talking about a new Kate Bush album. If that's not Science Fiction, I don't know what is.

According to some reports, the tentative title will be Duke Nukem For Ever.



[Postscript: She lives in Reading these days. If only we had some local conact in the Berkshire region, we'd be able to find out for sure, right?]

Fark takes on Star Trek

The friendly folks at Fark are, um, mourning the death of Enterprise. Check out Photoshopped promotions for the next Trek (Star Trek: Friends is rather frightening) and audio clips of various Trek characters running for president.

A Coupla Boings

Oops! Thanks to several of you for the correction to the second link.

Of course Cory likes this SF story-- it's almost one he could have written himself, right down to the garbage theme and the obligatory Disney reference.

What Arthur C. Clarke has to say about tsunami and ICTs.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Roger Dean movie in progress

The artist Roger Dean is working on a movie, Floating Islands, based on his Yes album cover paintings. (Thanks to Thomas K. Dye for mentioning it in his blog.)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Oh, the Treks You'll Take!

Star Trek, of course, was the tap root of modern fan fiction. Terms of art like "slash" and "Mary Sue" originated in Trek fanfic circles. I'm old enough to remember when the first slash authors were called "K/S ladies," which always made them seem like someone's grandmothers to me (some of them may well have been, of course).

I'm also old enough to remember when slash was seen as horribly transgressive and even dangerous; David Gerrold was worrying about it casting all of Trek fandom into disrepute as late as the second edition of World of Star Trek in 1979, even though by that time Bantam Books themselves had already published such borderline slash as Jane Peyton's "Cave-in," from their mass-market fanfic collection Star Trek: The New Voyages 2, or Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's novel The Price of the Phoenix (its 1979 sequel, The Fate of the Phoenix, was even slashier).

It's worth noting that slash grew from the very trunk of Star Trek fandom: Alternative, the first stand-alone slash zine, was published by Gerry Downes, a BNF who also published Stardate: Unknown, one of the most prominent non-slash fanzines. For that matter, some of the first major slash stories were written by none other than Leslie Fish, in zines like Warped Space and Lori Chapek-Carlton's Obsc'zine.

The Oxford English Dictionary's SF Fandom Vocabulary project, for what it's worth, cites Obsc'zine as being the origin point for both "Kirk/Spock" and its abbreviation "K/S". Just think — if they had called it "Kirk:Spock" fiction originally, we might today be talking about "colonic" fanfic instead of "slash" (as for the term "slash" itself, the OED currently dates that to 1984 in the letterzine "Not Tonight, Spock!").

These days, of course, fanfic and even slash are seen as unremarkable: The producers of Xena, for instance, formed a feedback loop with their fan community, amplifying the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle by including increasing amounts of subtextual innuendo in their scripts, which lead to slashier fanfic, which caused even more blatant subtext, until X/G slash was, by the end of the series, canonical (which, by some definitions, means that it was no longer slash). They also bought scripts from fan fiction superstar Melissa Good (including one for a never-produced third musical episode, which would have had Xena and Gabrielle meet up with Sappho — originally to have been played by k. d. lang).

What surprises are left in the Star Trek fanfic universe? There is already a fan fiction TV series, more or less; and there are books like Steven R. Boyett's Treks Not Taken, consisting of a series of Star Trek vignettes, like "The Crusher in the Rye" and "The Vampire LeForge," written in the style of other, more famous authors. Is that fanfic? Well, it's pretty hard to claim that Aslan Shrugged, below, is fan fiction and Boyett's "Fandom Shrugged" isn't.

So where, as they say on Buffy, do we go from here? Well, here are two otherwise unexplored areas of fanfiction creativity that I have come across: First off, via the Zwol message boards, comes what can best be described as dōjinshi based on Star Trek: The Animated Series. Given how well the art style of the animated series lends itself to easily-produced web comics, I'm surprised I haven't seem more stuff like this (there's also fumetti-style adaptation of "Yesteryear," one of the finest episodes of the animated series).

The second — and more outré — type of original fan fiction, was "Ensign Stuart Hershfeld's Journal," the modern equivalent of an epistolary fanfic, which consisted of a series of LiveJournal entries from Hershfeld, a young starfleet officer who really hates his job. And his ship. And most of his crewmates. And especially his ship's senior officers. And pretty much everything else in the universe, too, for that matter. He didn't make all that many entries before he either tired of it, or got his conciousness trapped in a living energy field, or was blown to smithereens by some kind of glowing purple space weasel or something. Shame, really, because the entries that are there are hillarious.

Finally, though, in honor of the passing of Enterprise, let's give Lore Sjöberg the final word, as we look back on the internet's first Enterprise slash fiction.

There's An Older Version With Fairuza Balk and Tim Curry -- oh, wait.

An English-langauge, live-action version of Kiki's Delivery Service -- adapted, as with the Studio Ghibli anime, from Eiko Kadono's novel -- is being produced by Disney.

Please forgive me; I must go into the corner and make faces.

But It Wasn't Nearly Gruesome Enough

In detailing the last year's ten most "redeeming" movies, Christianity Today Movies describe Spider-Man 2 as "The Passion redux." I remain somehow skeptical.

Eureka!

Y'all probably remember a little show called Robotech, particularly the Macross Saga, and particularly particularly the cool transformable Veritech fighters. Well, the creator of the Veritech, Shoji Kawamori, is working on a new show called Eureka 7 (official website; wait for the background to load, it's worth it). Bandai and Studio BONES have announced they'll be co-producing the series. Remarkably, they plan to produce 50 episodes, which is unusually long for a non-Gundam anime series these days. And Bandai's confirmed it'll release the series in North America, someday.

Fan Fiction Friday Bonus Early Edition

I intend to return later today, to honor the passing of Enterprise with some Star Trek fan fiction.

"What is this?" I hear you saying, "People have written fan fiction about Star Trek? How strange and marvelous this universe must be, for I have never considered that such a thing might be possible!"

Well, it is true; however, before we get to that, I have come to honor another momentous occasion: the hundredth anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth, which happened on February 2. And I will do this in the way that Ayn herself would undoubtedly have preferred, if only she were totally different in every respect than she actually was: by sharing with you some fan fiction.

But not just any fan fiction, oh no! For this is Aslan Shrugged*, which expertly merges Rand's Christian apologetics and mysticism with C. S. Lewis' love of pure reason and hardheaded materialism, to create what must surely be the finest Ayn Rand fan fiction I have read all week.

So far, not only the intro, but parts one and two are available.


While you're there, be sure to check out their heartwarming tale of a magical pig and his very special friends, Shelob's Web.


* Thanks to Electrolite

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dead Two Days and Counting...

Two things happened to remind me that Enterprise was dead today:

This strip, about which Randy says "I look forward to the hate mail," and my first blog-related hate mail. Well, no, it was more like angry mail. But still.

I recognize that there are some readers of this blog who liked Enterprise. Perhaps not a majority, but a number. I guess I should've kept myself in check-- I've already vented my spleen about the biggest reason I left the series. No reason to add insult to fatal injury. It's effort better directed toward preserving Battlestar Galactica.

Enough heavy stuff. Enjoy this send-up of a classic Spider-Man story from my childhood, which, I'll wager, has fewer defenders than Enterprise.

The Mirror of Erutuf

From New Scientist comes a report of researchers in France who are attempting to create a "mirror" designed so that when you look into it, it will reflect back to you the image of your future self, five years down the road.

The "mirror" is actually a monitor which displays a live video feed from a camera. However, before the picture from the camera makes it to the display, it is fiddled with in real time by a computer which has been monitoring every aspect of your life by means of a network of high-resolution cameras placed throughout your house.

It sees you when you're sleeping; it knows when you're awake. It knows when you've been exercising, or sneaking that late-night piece of double-fudge cheesecake from the back of the fridge; and using all of that information, it decides just how many pounds to add or subtract from your future self, and how many wrinkles, grey hairs, and additional chins you will acquire. Similarly, once you finally begin that long-delayed diet, and actually start using the cobweb-festooned stairmaster in the corner of your lumber room, you can watch your future pounds melt away and a presumably slimmer and healthier you appear in the mirror.

It's the Magic Mirror from Snow White as voiced by Simon Cowell; it's the city in Sheckley's "Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay" shrunk down to just your house.

Frankly, I can't imagine that there will be a very robust market for products designed to make you look older; on the other hand, just imagine the fun you could have if you got root access to that system! You could have it show people with ghastly unexplained scars, Borg implants, or even a really bad mullet. Or just not show them at all, leaving them to assume that in five years' time, they will become vampires.

Oh, That Wacky Robot Cat

Gizmodo tracks down the adorable Doraemon iPod mini, a precious little companion for December's Evangelion iPod. (Can't we just get the neat cases on their own? Sigh.)

If you like your anime mascots a bit more, er, knocked off, you're probably all about the FCC's Broadband the Cat. Anime Jump thinks Broadband should have some pals.

Bricks of Madness?

H P Lovecraft is on a collision course with George Herriman in Mikael Oskarsson's webcomic Flick, in one of the best take-offs of the Krazy Kat style you're ever likely to see.

EDIT: Just one "t" in Kat. Drat.

Love In Cons

It's cute. Read it quick, before it disappears beyond the subscription wall.

And Wednesday reports it so I don't have to: Enterprise is dead. And all I can say is, thank God.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Enterprise is cancelled.

It's official. It's over. It's pointless to push it, guys.

Could be worse. The last episode could involve Captain Archer trading bodies with the living embodiment of premenstrual syndrome.

It's also Brent Spiner's birthday. Interesting present.

British Groundhogs Emerge Five Weeks Later, Too

UK premiere date for Serenity is 4 November. (A fortunate few will see an unfinished preview at a London con next week, but they don't count.)

The US release date is 30 September.

I am full of loathing now, and am going to go sulk in the elk.

Do you think we can get Jerry Pournelle to phone up his good friends, Joss Whedon and the CEO of Universal, and arrange for this situation to be fixed in true Chaos Manor style?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

One Manga Publisher Down

After a string of difficulties, American manga publisher Studio Ironcat have ceased operations. A thread on the still-running Ironcat news forum suggests that owner Steve Bennett will be concentrating on his own artwork for a while.

I knew we shoulda filled out our Futaba-kun Change! collection at the last AWA.

It's Still Tuesday Here...

...even if it's already Wednesday for Wednesday.

With that in mind, I present a true classic of the internets ("classic," of course, means "you've read this a thousand times already"), as archived on Jerry Pournelle's web site*. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you a Chaos Manor Special Report: "Dogs in Elk"!




* By astounding coincidence, this story contains exactly as much useful information about computers as Dr. Pournelle's typical "Chaos Manor" column for Byte used to.

Next on Discovery Channel's Monster Mortuary

Well, okay then: This is obviously my week for grave sites that most people wouldn't be caught dead in. From the BBC comes this report from the Ghanaian town of Accra, which seems to have become the center of a cottage industry for custom-made surrealist coffins. Sort of the ultimate case mod, you might say.

Have you ever wanted to be buried in a giant Coke bottle? Or an enormous snail? Well, then, this is the place for you. Be sure to look at the picture gallery, while you try to figure out who would want to be buried inside a chicken.

The true highlight of the piece, however — the magnum opus that could only have been conceived by a tag team of Hieronymus Bosch and Grant Morrison — is the coffin shaped like, well, the entire female reproductive system.

The womb tomb: Boy, do I wish Sigmund Freud were alive to see that. It would kill him.

The final little crowning touch, the end-zone dance at the end of the article, for me, is the caption to that picture, which I swear I will someday use as the first sentence in some kind of post-cyberpunk short story: "In another showroom, a polished uterus waits to be picked up by a gynaecologist."