Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Observers

The Observers by G. L. Vandenburg

'You can't be too suspicious when security is at stake. When everybody who is after a key military job wears a toupee, it is obviously a bald case of espionage.'

Where I Wasn't Going by Leigh Richmond and Walt Richmond

'"The Spaceman's Lament" concerned a man who wound up where he wasn't going ... but the men on Space Station One knew they weren't going anywhere. Until Confusion set in....'

Friday, January 29, 2010

More Gundam Unicorn Trailers

The new mecha OVA Gundam Unicorn, which is set in the original U. C. timeline, is set to premiere the month after next, and I'm getting kind of psyched.

The recent iterations of Gundam have been OK, but I like the fact that they're returning to the original continuity. Here's a longer trailer (no subs) that goes into more detail about the show.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Super Science Stories

The Internet Archive is a great source of public domain material including quite a few old pulp sf magazines. They even have rare titles, like Super Science Stories which was edited by some young whippersnapper named Frederik Pohl. They only have two issues available so far, Volume 1, Number 2, from May, 1940, and Volume 2, Number 2, from January, 1941, but they feature stories by some famous authors.

 The May, 1940 issue has tales by Robert A. Heinlein (writing as Lyle Monroe), L. Sprague de Camp, C. M. Kornbluth, James Blish, Manly Wade Wellman, Donald A. Wollheim  and others, including an essay by science writer Willy Ley.

The January, 1941 issue has fewer famous names, but includes stories by the incomparable Leigh Brackett as well as by Pohl himself (as by James MacCreigh) and an early collaboration between Pohl and Kornbluth along with Dirk Wylie, with the story attributed entirely to the latter.

If you're a fan of Golden Age SF it goes without saying that you won't want to miss this stuff. [via Marooned]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bear Trap

Bear Trap by Alan E. Nourse

"The man's meteoric rise as a peacemaker in a nation tired by the long years of war made the truth even more shocking."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mitchell & Webb - Science Fiction

British comedy duo Mitchell & Webb present a spoof of the typical Hollywood sf show.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pohl on Asimov

Frederik Pohl has posted about his experiences with Isaac Asimov. This is a chance to hear an intimate portrait of one sf legend by another. Needless to say you won't want to miss it. Pohl's blog is full of indispensable insights into the galactic bulge of sf, especially the Golden Age. If you're like me, you've spent many an hour raptly reading his reminiscences. And now that he's discussing the Good Doctor, I'm doubly interested.
Like most of us in the New York area, Isaac’s first clue that there was a way to join others came from reading Hugo Gernsback’s magazine, Wonder Stories. In an effort to improve sales, Gernsback had started a correspondence club, the Science Fiction League, and allowed some members to charter local chapters. One, the Q (for Queens) SFL, was in the New York area and was the point of first contact for most of the area’s newbies because they’d read about it in the magazine.

So the QSFL was where Isaac first showed up, but we Futurians kept an eye on their new blood. Anyone who turned up with an interest in writing sf as well as reading it, we kidnapped; that was one of the reasons the QSFL’s heads, James Taurasi, Will Sykora and Sam Moskowitz, weren’t real fond of us. And Isaac made it clear that he was definitely going to become an sf professional writer, as soon as he figured out how.
Continue reading at The Way the Future Blogs.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Tears of Lilith

by Clark Ashton Smith

O lovely demon, half-divine!
Hemlock and hydromel and gall,
Honey and aconite and wine
Mingle to make that mouth of thine—

Thy mouth I love: but most of all
It is thy tears that I desire—
Thy tears, like fountain-drops that fall
In gardens red, Satanical;

Or like the tears of mist and fire,
Wept by the moon, that wizards use
To secret runes when they require
Some silver philter, sweet and dire.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Imai Files

Recently an archive of rare pre-production artwork for the anime shows Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (機甲創世記モスピーダ) and The Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross (超時空騎団サザンクロス) has been uncovered and released on the net by Roger Harkavy. These are the shows that were cobbled together to form the last part of Robotech here in the U. S. It's really a treasure trove of material, and a great glimpse into the creative precess behind an sf TV show.

One of the most interesting things to me is that Southern Cross was originally conceived as a "Science Fiction Sengoku Saga" that starred high-tech samurai.

They were replaced by conventional mecha in the final production, but I can't help imagining that the show might have had more originality if they'd stuck to the original concept.

You can download a PDF of the Imai Files here. [via AltJapan]

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Real Hard Sell

"The Real Hard Sell" by William W. Stuart

"Naturally human work was more creative, more inspiring, more important than robot drudgery. Naturally it was the most important task in all the world … or was it?"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Known Universe

Courtesy of The American Museum of Natural History. This really puts things in perspective. My only nitpick is that they don't depict the Kuiper Belt or the Oort Cloud, but I guess I can forgive them for not wanting to render billions of outer space icebergs.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anime Film Favorites

I'm not normally a fan of the ubiquitous internet lists, but I do enjoy SF Signal's weekly Mind Meld. This time around they've asked people to list what they consider to be the Top Five Anime Films of All Time. There are some titles I disagree with (Inuyasha?!) and some I haven't seen, so this is a good excuse to track them down. Needless to say the obvious choices are well represented, with Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Miyazaki-san's corpus getting multiple mentions. I'm kind of surprised that mecha films aren't better represented. Gundam and Macross aren't even mentioned. Poor Minmei.

"No song for you SF Signal."

To top everything off, John tallies up the titles into a list of The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time. So it's something you might want to check out, even if you don't like lists.

Happy Birthday, Nancy Kress

Happy birthday to multiple award winning sf author Nancy Kress today. She started out writing fantasies like The Golden Grove (1984) but really gained fame with her Sleepless trilogy, Beggars in Spain (1993), Beggars and Choosers (1994), Beggars Ride (1996). When she's not passing on her wisdom at writer's workshops she continues to pen engaging novels, like the Probability trilogy and her most recent, Steal Across the Sky (2009).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

R.I.P. Daisuke Gōri

Some sad news from Japan today. The Mainichi Daily reports that veteran seiyū Daisuke Gōri (郷里 大輔) has been found dead in an apparent suicide.,
The body of voice actor Daisuke Gori was found on a Tokyo street on Sunday. Police believe he committed suicide.
A passer-by found Gori, 57, lying on a street in Nakano Ward, bleeding from his wrists and neck. There were no signs of a struggle, and there was a suicide note in his trouser pocket, say police. A bloodstained knife was also found near the body.
Gori, real name Yoshio Nagahori, was a voice actor and narrator, with notable anime credits including the Kinnikuman and Dragon Ball series.
Gōri-san was a character actor who lent his voice talent to some of my favorite anime, including Gundam, Zeta Gundam, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Samurai Champloo, Slayers and the recent Slayers Evolution-R. I'm sorry to see him go.

Frigid Fracas

"If at First You Don't..." by John Brudy

"To Amos Jordan, Secretary for Cislunar Navigation, no situation was unsolvable. There were rules for everything, weren't there.... Except maybe this thing ..."

Frigid Fracas by Mack Reynolds

"In any status-hungry culture, the level a man is assigned depends on what people think he is—not on what he is. And that, of course, means that only the deliberately phony has real status!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gundam Miku Miku Dance

Come to think of it, Hatsune Miku does look a little like C. C. from Code Geass, so it's not so hard to picture her as a mecha pilot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Junkmakers

The Junkmakers by Albert Teichner

"Eric was the best robot they'd ever had--perfectly trained, ever thoughtful, a joy to own. Naturally they had to destroy him!"

Avatar (2009)

I thought about reviewing James Cameron's new movie Avatar (2009) -- not to be confused with Pat Cadigan's novel Avatar (1998), or the shonen cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008) -- but it's become such a monster hit that it would be redundant at this point. I really enjoyed it and it was just what I expected, which is to say it was a big-budget, live-action anime, sans involved plot but complete with mecha and oversized nekomusume. The central sf plot device of the movie is almost identical to that of Poul Anderson's story "Call Me Joe" (1957), but the overarching story is more of a Western set in space than anything. And while this movie isn't hard-sf, Cameron deserves credit for going the extra kilometer and hiring science advisers to give the film more scientific depth than the average Hollywood spectacle. Let's hope this sets a standard. My only real gripe is that when he invented a fictitious element he not only didn't think up a clever name for it, like Cavorite, Protonite, or Etherium, but he actually used the joke name "Unobtanium." WTF? Even Froonium would've been better than that. One thing that did puzzle me was why all the animals on Pandora evolved with organic USB cables growing out of them, but that's since been addressed. I'll let Stephen Colbert explain it.

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Movies That Are Destroying America - Avatar Edition

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Industrial Revolution

Industrial Revolution by Poul Anderson

"Ever think how deadly a thing it is if a machine has amnesia—or how easily it can be arranged...."

Take the Reason Prisoner by John J. McGuire

"No process is perfect ...but some men always feel unalterably convinced that their system is the Be all and End all. Psychology now, should make prisons absolutely escape-proof, and cure all aberrations...."

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Ethical Engineer

A Knyght Ther Was by Robert F. Young

"But the Knyght was a little less than Perfect, and his horse did not have a metabolism, and his "castle" was much more mobile—timewise!—than it had any business being!"

The Ethical Engineer by Harry Harrison

"That mores is strictly a matter of local custom cannot be denied. But that ethics is pure opinion also...? Maybe there are times for murder, and theft and slavery...."

Happy Birthday, Robert Silverberg

Today is the birthday of the renowned Grand Master Robert Silverberg. A noteworthy author and editor, he began his prolific career in the 1950's producing an astonishing amount of fiction, much under numerous pseudonyms, often in collaboration with the late Randall Garret. But he really came into his own at the time of the New Wave, proving himself one of the finest writers of that movement. Among his memorable novels during this period are Thorns (1967), Hawksbill Station (1968), Up the Line (1969), Downward to Earth (1970), Tower of Glass (1970), The Second Trip (1972), The Stochastic Man (1975), and Shadrach in the Furnace (1976). Disgusted with the editorial practices then prevalent in the field and unhappy that his work was not receiving more recognition, Mr. Silverberg joined fellow literary powerhouse Barry N.Malzberg in renouncing the genre. Luckily for us he soon returned to writing with the finely wrought Planetary Romance Lord Valentine's Castle (1980). He has remained active in sf ever since and continues to write impressive and provocative fiction and essays. So happy birthday to you, Robert Silverberg.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The People of the Crater

The People of the Crater by Andre Norton

'"Send the Black Throne to dust; conquer the Black Ones, and bring the Daughter from the Caves of Darkness." These were the tasks Garin must perform to fulfill the prophecy of the Ancient Ones—and establish his own destiny in this hidden land!'

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ink (2009)

The fantasy movie Ink (2009), is the creation of Jamin and Kiowa Winans. An independently produced film that was screened at several festivals, it failed to gain a distribution deal from any major studio. Not to be deterred, the filmmakers began distributing it online, and have gained quite an audience in the process. And not without reason. Ink is an impressively stylish fairytale that relates a familiar moral.

The film begins with a harried salaryman, John (Chris Kelly), getting into his car, having a temper tantrum as he drives along and getting t-boned in an intersection. As he sits unconscious in the wreck, a woman's hand reaches is to touch his forehead. In one of the marked transitions that characterize the non-linear narrative style of the movie, we then see him outdoors with his daughter, Emma (Quinn Hunchar) who is encouraging him to play with her. He overcomes his reluctance and joins in with her game. The scene then changes again to a suburban street at night as a group of dapper twenty-somethings appear out of thin air and surreptitiously enter the neighborhood houses. These are the Storytellers who bestow good dreams on the sleeping citizens, including Emma, who is ministered to by Allel (Jennifer Batter). But soon a sinister group of middle-aged men appears dressed all in black vinyl and with eerie screens in front of their faces. They are the Incubi, who inflict nightmares on the helpless sleepers. Hot on their heels appears a shambling figure with a nose like a troll and dressed in rags. This is the eponymous Ink, who abducts Emma despite the best efforts of Allel and the other kung-fu fighting Storytellers. And so Allel must seek out Jacob (Jeremy Make), an obnoxious Pathfinder who was struck blind by God and who is the only one that can lead her to the girl. Meanwhile, Liev (Jessica Duffy), another Storyteller-cum-martial artist confronts Ink directly in an attempt to save Emma from his clutches.

That brief synopsis doesn't to justice to the stylish convolutions through which this film unfolds. Despite the daringly non-sequential way the story is conveyed things never become confused and the narrative thread isn't lost. And although there are a few scenes that fall flat, Winans exhibits a sure hand that keeps the film from ever becoming muddled. It's a remarkable accomplishment in it's own right and marks a filmmaker of no mean talent. The performances of the three leads are equally impressive. Chris Kelly (who incidentally bears a passing resemblance to Milo Ventimiglia) delivers a solid portrayal of an ambitious but emotionally distant father. Jessica Duffy is convincing and sympathetic as the valorous Storyteller. And young Quinn Hunchar delivers a capable performance as the endangered daughter.

The weakness of this film is in the underlying plot and in the other actors, some of whom deliver substandard performances. Jennifer Batter is flat and unremarkable as the Storyteller leading the chase after Ink. And it's bad enough that Jeremy Make is stuck playing the clichéd role of the abrasive but indispensably talented expert, but his awkward and ineffective delivery of the character make Jacob one of the weakest aspects of the film. Almost as weak as the plot, which not only resorts to the hoary cliché of the Baby Snatcher (as does Without a Trace, Lost, Torchwood "Children of Earth," and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) but also delivers a moral that is mawkish in the extreme. When all is said and done you get the feeling that this film is intended to play on the feelings of guilt experienced by working parents and remind them that their children are the most important things in their lives. A commendable sentiment, but also one that is rather banal.

But the pleasure of this film is in the watching. However disappointing the substance of the fable being conveyed, the sheer sumptuousness of the telling more than makes up for it. It makes me want to seek out Winans' other films to see if they have as much flair. With Ink he has created a visually enticing, though ultimately cloying, fantasy that deserves wider attention than it has so far received.

Before Sunrise

by Clark Ashton Smith

I rose in that hushed hour before the dawn
Unveils its wonder old yet ever-new,
When still the night lies languidly upon
The earth, though stars are growing faint and few.

Up the long path I went, nor paused to rest
Along the cool, dark way, till on the hill
I stood, where dawn's first breeze my brow caressed
With mingled odorous breath and mountain chill.

To west hung heavily the drowsy night,
Weighted with fog, low-clinging, grey and dim,
Adown each valley and about each height,
Thro' which the sinking stars appeared to swim.

I turned, and lo! how pale the eastland's face,
As if it mourned the starlit night's decline,
Ere youthful Day, coming with eager pace,
With kisses should that cheek incarnadine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jack of No Trades

Before Egypt by Robert Bloch

'It was Mallison's strangest assignment. The weird little professor wanted to go to Egypt. That meant a trip back to Earth so far as Mallison was concerned. But the professor pointed to a distant star and Mallison wondered: "Who moved Egypt?"'

Jack of No Trades by Charles Cottrell

"First we discovered the Willy Maloon category. Then we discovered Willy himself. Then we data-researched, and postulated a theory. Everything was easy, until it came to the question of proof."

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sky Crawlers (スカイ·クロラ, 2008)

Production I. G.'s The Sky Crawlers (スカイ·クロラ, 2008), which wasn't released in the U. S. until 2009,  is a compelling sf anime that deals with some deeply philosophical questions in a tale of war, love and fate. Directed by the legendary Mamoru Oshii (押井守) it is an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's (森博嗣) ,eponymous novel. As this is an Oshii film you know it will feature a basset hound, and sure enough we see it right after the opening credits. And being an Oshii film you also know there will be some serious philosophy involved, and he doesn't disappointed as within the first ten minutes the protagonist is quoting Camus. In short this is a characteristically accomplished Ohshii film in which philosophical substance takes precedence over shallow spectacle.

The film opens with a fierce dogfight between pilots flying warplanes built using c. 1940's level technology, but clearly not vintage WWII craft of any known make. We watch as a flight of planes is decimated by a fighter emblazoned with a black panther. As we later learn this is "The Teacher," the feared enemy ace who has never been defeated. After the credits roll we see young Yuichi Kannami fly in for a landing. He's perplexed that the pilot he's replacing isn't there to hand over his plane and no one will give him a straight answer about what happened to him. He then meets his commanding officer, Suito Kusanagi, a stiff and taciturn girl who is never without her loaded pistol. Both serve one of the two corporations who stage the deadly battles that both entertain the populace and substitute for actual war, allowing the world at large to enjoy peace. This bloodsport is fought by Kildren, genetically engineered adolescents who experience eternal youth unless killed on the battlefield. As the years roll on and battle follows battle, the Kildren's minds become numbed and they struggle on through a dreamlike existence. And as Yuichi unravels the mystery surrounding the pilot he replaced, he will find his fate intertwined with that of Suito and confront the profound existential dilemma of the Kildren's existence.

In addition to the provocative philosophical issues addressed by this film it also contains some subtle but discernible social commentary. The adolescent Kildren -- a clever translation of キルドレ that evokes "killer children" -- who continually fight the battles of this world are like the innumerable youths who generation after generation have marched off to fight and die in the world's wars. The corporations that stage and profit from these battles recall the military-industrial complex that dominates so much of the world's economy and consumes so much of its resources. And the way the Kildren are glamorized by society is reminiscent of the way in which societies glorify solders by making heroes of them. There is also a religious dimension to the film, with the fate of Kildren reflecting the fate of the reincarnated soul which, to put it in classical terms, has crossed the river Styx and spent a thousand years in Hades, only to drink from the waters of Lethe and return to the mortal world bereft of memories and fated to repeat the cycle of rebirth.

If there is a criticism to be made of this film it's that the central premise is lifted without acknowledgment straight from Mack Reynold's 1968 novel Mercenary From Tomorrow. However, Mori and Oshii have given the material such a serious and substantive treatment that it elevates it above mere pastiche. A more serious charge is that it might be too recondite for the average viewer. Certainly it features some thrilling battle scenes, but they are too few and far between to appeal to the average anime fan. This film has much more in common with the solemn 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) than with the frenetic Star Wars (1977) and as a result it might leave the casual viewer bored and confused

But presumably people watching this will be aware of Oshii-san's reputation and will know what to expect. And they won't be disappointed. The Sky Crawlers is an impressive and moving film that also makes brilliant use of the sf genre to explore some serious philosophical questions.

Edit: I forgot to mention that you shouldn't stop watching when the end credits roll. There's an important scene following them that provides an apt coda to the film.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Demi-Urge

As if one mystery of creation weren't enough, there was the myth of . . .

"The Demi-Urge" by Thomas M. Disch

"They didn't think of themselves as pioneers. They simply had a job to do. And if they had to give up money, or power, or love—or life itself—that was the..."

"Fee of the Frontier" by H. B. Fyfe

Expediter by Mack Reynolds

"His assignment was to get things done; he definitely did so. Not quite the things intended, perhaps, but definitely done."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Step IV

"Heart" by Henry Slesar

"Monk had three questions he lived by: Where can I find it? How much will it cost? When can you deliver? But now they said that what he needed wasn't for sale. "Want to bet?" He snorted."

"Step IV" by Rosel George Brown

"Steps 1, 2 and 3 went according to plan. Then she moved on to...."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Could Have Been Public Domain

Under the law that existed until 1978 . . . Works from 1953

Casino Royale, Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy cover, The Adventures of Augie March, the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Crick & Watson’s Nature article decoding the double helix, Disney’s Peter Pan, The Crucible . . . .

Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1953 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2010.

The 1950s were also the peak of popular science fiction writing. 1953 saw the publication of Robert Heinlein’s Starman Jones, Isaac Asimov’s Second Foundation, and Arthur Clarke’s Childhood's End. Instead of seeing these enter the public domain in 2010, we will have to wait until 2049 — a date that, itself, seems the stuff of science fiction."

Read full article here.

What Need of Man?

"What Need of Man?" by Harold Calin

"Bannister was a rocket scientist. He started with the premise of testing man's reaction to space probes under actual conditions; but now he was just testing space probes—and man was a necessary evil to contend with."

"Thin Edge" by Randall Garrett

"There are inventions of great value that one type of society can use—and that would, for another society, be most nastily deadly!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Better Choice

Today is the birthday of the late S. Fowler Wright (1874-1965), a notable British sf author in the early days of the genre. He's best remembered for his first two novels, The Amphibians (1924), a tale set in the remote future, and the post-apocalyptic Deluge (1927), the latter of which became the basis of a 1933 film by RKO Pictures. His estate maintains a website devoted to his many works, including his sf stories. Among them is an affecting little tale, "The Better Choice," written for Groff Cronklin's 1955 anthology, Science Fiction Adventures in Mutation.

The Better Choice

"Mutants," Professor Forsyte said with quiet finality, "are normal, for mutability is a fundamental natural law. They have been explicable since we have known that atoms may be transformed or split with inevitable consequence - and they are certainly nothing new.
        "One of the earliest books that has survived from classical times narrates how a man's wife was changed into a cat; and there is independent testimony, almost equally ancient, from Northern Europe, which tells of the mutation of men and wolves."
        Olive asked: "Could you do it? I should rather like being a cat."
        "I should have supposed that the attraction would not be great."
        "Well, I feel differently. Shouldn't you like me purring against your legs?"
        The professor looked at his wife doubtfully. She had always been too volatile, too flippant to be helpful in serious work. But perhaps now . . . if she really would!
        As he hesitated, he saw the expression of petulant annoyance which was too frequent on an attractive face.
        "Of course," she said, "you couldn't. It's only talk."
        "If you would co-operate - "
        "I'd jump at the chance." - And I'd be able to jump better than I do now, she thought whimsically; but she had learned that such levities were not appreciatively received.
        "It would be a particularly interesting experiment," the professor continued. "But we should need to have a clear understanding about getting you back to normal. We should have to co-operate in that also."
        "You think it might come unstuck there?"
        "There should be no risk whatever. I only meant that the cat - that I couldn't do it without your consent."
        "Well, you'd certainly get that!"
        Olive had been away for nearly a week, callously leaving the professor in ignorance of what might have occurred. She had had the time of her life. She had teased dogs.
        She had stolen food without fear of criminal law. She had had adventures upon the tiles.
        Now she leaped on to the windowsill, so that (for he was not asleep, as she had assumed he would be) he saw her, black against moonlit sky.
Would she come in? Would she creep in beside him? Would she be content to wait till the daylight should come, or would she desire his help to release her now, so that the dawn would reveal a disorder of gold-brown hair, and a piquant face asleep on a red-nailed hand?
        So he hoped, so he expected that it would be; but it might be best that she should think him asleep while he watched what she would do.
        She did not come in. Only her tail moved. He saw it arch and wave, as if it were agitated by the thoughts that crept down her spine.
        It was true that she had meant to return to him, and her human life. It had been an evident course which her mind had accepted without debate. But it was now that a doubt arose.
        There was so little to return to: so very much to resign. He saw her turn and leap back into the night.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twilight on the Snow

by Clark Ashton Smith

Before the hill's high altar bowed,
The trees are Druids, weird and white,
Facing the vision of the light
With ancient lips to silence vowed.

No certain sound the woods aver,
Nor motion save of formless wings—
Filled with phantasmal flutterings,
With thronging gloom and shadow-stir.

Unseen, unheard, amid the dell
Lie all the winds that mantic trees
Have lulled with crystal warlockries
And bound about with Merlin-spell.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Space Battleship Yamato teaser

Here's the teaser for the new live-action Space Battleship Yamato movie.

[via Japan Probe and SciFi Japan]

The director is Takashi Yamazaki, who did the entertaining time-travel film, Returner, so this should be pretty good. Space Battleship Yamato was an enjoyable anime, despite the nationalist overtones of resurrecting an Imperial battleship and the scientific silliness of sending it into space. (It would be slightly more plausible to do that with a submarine, as in Harry Harrison's The Daleth Effect (1970), but not much.) But this new movie looks like it's going to be a fun space opera romp and I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it.

"To Invade New York...."

"To Invade New York...." by Irwin Lewis

"It would be foolish to do a thing a hard way, when there is such an easy way. In a technically dependent culture, people become quite helpless, really...."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nor Iron Bars a Cage

Today Project Gutenberg adds two novelettes by the prolific Randall Garrett to its collection, including the first of his Harry Potteresque Lord Darcy series, The Eyes Have It. The title of his other story alludes to the first line of the last stanza of Richard Lovelace's poem, To Althea, Form Prison. "Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage"

Nor Iron Bars a Cage.... by Randall Garrett

"Iron bars do not confine a Man—only his body. There are more subtle, and more confining bindings, however...."

The Eyes Have It by Randall Garrett

"In a sense, this is a story of here-and-now. This Earth, this year ... but on a history-line slipped slightly sidewise. A history in which a great man acted differently, and Magic, rather than physical science, was developed...."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Barbarians

The Barbarians by Algis Budrys

"History was repeating itself; there were moats and nobles in Pennsylvania and vassals in Manhattan and the barbarian hordes were overrunning the land."

Happy Asimov Day

"We are now living in a science fictional world."

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Hate Disease

The Hate Disease by Murray Leinster

"The Med Service people hit strange problems as routine: if they weren't weirdos, they weren't tough enough to merit Med Service attention. Now the essence of a weird problem is that it involves a factor nobody ever thought of before ... or the absence of one nobody ever missed ..."

"A World by the Tale" by Randall Garrett

"This is about the best-hated author on Earth. Who was necessarily pampered and petted because of his crime against humanity...."

Happy New Year


Murgatroyd joins you in toasting the New Year with a hot cup of coffee.