Friday, December 30, 2011

Fukushima: Truth and Consequences


One of the most significant events of the year was the natural disaster that struck Japan which precipitated a catastrophic triple meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Although the Japanese government has engaged in the charade of declaring a "cold shutdown" the crisis is far from over. In the most recent episode Radio Ecoshock host Alex Smith does a good job of cutting through the disinformation. The show cites Japanese blogger EX-SKF, who provides hard to come by details about the situation, and Kazuhiko Kobayashi who exposes the cronyism that is preventing the government from acting in the public interest. Smith also scrutinizes the sensational claim made in a recent scientific paper that 14,000 Americans were killed by fallout. As you know, correlation does not imply causation and the study does not establish a link between the meltdowns and the spike in mortality. As Alex rightly observes, "Given that doubt, I find the headline for the study press release misleading. We don't know Fukushima fallout caused 14,000 American deaths." We don't need overinflated claims like this distracting from the real tragedy. As a recent NPR report detailed, the damage caused by these meltdowns is so terrible and long lasting that it has turned Japan "into a nation of guinea pigs."

Radio Ecoshock - Fukushima: Truth and Consequences (1 hr)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rusty Hevelin (1922-2011)


Longtime sf fan Rusty Hevelin has passed away. If you ever attended an sf con you know who Rusty was. He was a fixture of fandom and his passing will be deeply felt by all. The first memory I have of him is of him sitting on a panel discussing noteworthy sf novels, and me taking mental notes for future reference. Goodbye, Rusty. We'll miss you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Elly's Christmas



Elly the robot (Hikari Mitsushima) learns the meaning of Christmas with a little help from Ultraman Max and friends. メリークリスマス!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Hanukkah



What better way to celebrate the Festival of Lights than with the traditional human centipede menorah?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wake, Watch, Wonder


Speak of the devil. No sooner did I mentioned Robert J. Sawyer in my last post than I found this short Bookbits interview with him talking about the latest volume in his WWW Trilogy.

Wonder - The final book in Sawyer's trilogy about The Singularity (05 mins, 54 secs)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Neanderthals who say "Ni!"



Did Sawyer cover this in his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy? I can't remember. But at least the mystery of the Neanderthals' fondness for shrubbery has finely been solved.

[via Dangerous Minds]

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ultrasanta



Even the kaiju are getting into the holiday spirit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trek Nation

I did watch Trek Nation, but I haven't blogged about it before now because I wasn't overly impressed. Aside from a few celebrity interviews there wasn't much that we haven't already seen in Trekkies (1997). It was enjoyably, but not overly impressive.



The angle of the documentary is that Gene Roddenberry's son, Rod Roddenberry, explores his father's legacy. There are some short interviews with people like Seth MacFarlane, super-fan Bjo Trimble, Stan Lee, and George Lucas, et al. However, for the most part it retells stories we've heard before. Nichelle Nichols talks about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being a fan of the show. They suggest that the shows' optimism appealed to people, etc. Rod does deserve credit for portraying his father warts and all. He covers his philandering and his clashes with screenwriters like Trek mainstay D. C. Fontana. In addition, some interesting trivia gets covered. Rick Berman, who took the helm after Roddenberry died, kept a blindfolded bust of Roddenberry on his desk to express his opinion that the Great Bird of the Galaxy would not approve of the changes being made to his franchise. The most intriguing new angle highlighted was the possibility that Wesley Crusher was something of a surrogate son for Roddenberry. As if he tried to compensate for his disappointment in his real son, Rod, by creating an idealized fictional child. Unfortunately that reading isn't explored in any depth, and Rod's meeting with Wil Wheaton is all too brief.

"How do you like me now?"

Another interesting bit of trivia clarified the notorious "Wagon Train to the Stars" thing. The way Rod tells it, his father's original pilot, "The Cage", was rejected by the studio. When Roddenberry asked why it was turned down he was told it was because they wanted a western. So he re-shot a new pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", added a fistfight at the end, and pitched it as "Wagon Train to the Stars". This time the studio gave the green light. For me this dispells the common opinion that Roddenberry set out to make a western set in space. On the contrary, it validates my opinion that calling it "Wagon Train to the Stars" was just a ploy to frame the show in a way that would appeal to studio executives. Unfortunately Rod immediately undercuts this interpretation by immediately repeating the tired saw that Kirk was a cowboy, the ship was his horse and the phaser his six-shooter. Then what about Forbidden Planet (1956)? Was that a western set in space? But it was based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. Does that mean Shakespeare wrote westerns? The way I see it Kirk has more in common with Horatio Hornblower than with Hopalong Cassidy.



The most disappointing thing about this doc was that there was little or no mention of the wider science fiction genre or even the science fiction authors who worked on the show. It's a baffling omission since one of the things that sets Star Trek apart from most TV sf is that Roddenberry hired professional sf writers to pen many of the episodes. And it was all the more aggravating because in the course of talking about how the show was aimed at an adult audience rather than being another kiddy show they flashed a scene from "Arena". Yet there was no mention that it was based on the classic story by Fredric Brown. And when you consider that it was Theodore Sturgeon who wrote "Amok Time" which did so much to define Vulcans it's really an inexcusable oversight. When Roddenberry was trying to bring the show back to the airwaves he solicited a script from Norman Spinrad, and for his record Inside Star Tek (1979) he sought out Isaac Asimov for comment. He seems to have had a respect for sf writers that's rare in Hollywood.



For the most part Trek Nation stuck to a familiar script. Not disappointing, but also not much in the way of new revelations. It's the kind of show that's most likely to appeal to those who are unfamiliar with the backstory of Trek or to die-hard Trekkers who can't get enough of Roddenberry's world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Lonely Ones (1953)


"The Lonely Ones" by Edward W. Ludwig

"The line between noble dreams and madness is thin, and loneliness can push men past it...."


Produced by Frank van Drogen, Greg Weeks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

We're Civilized! (1953)


"We're Civilized!" by Alex Apostolides and Mark Clifton

"Naturally, the superior race should win ... but superior by which standards ... and whose?"


Produced by Frank van Drogen, Greg Weeks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Here Comes Gojira Claus




There's nothing like a giant, radioactive theropod rampaging through a shopping mall to get you into the holiday spirit, is there?

[via Disinfo]

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Now Show -- in spaaace!


The discovery by NASA's of the planet Kepler-22b gave Britain's topical news program The Now Show an excuse get a little spacey. Get ready to laugh at some Star Trek and Star Wars references (and brace yourself for an unexpected defense of that clank-head Clarkson). The show will only be up for a week, so enjoy it while you can.

The Now Show 9 Dec 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jerry Robinson (1922-2011)

Jerry Robinson has passed away. He was one of the first artists to work on DC Entertainment, Inc.'s Batman title, and is widely credited with creating the Joker.


Here's a short video of him at New York Comic Con 2009 talking about the origin of his iconic villain.

10 Billion Days And 100 Billion Nights

I was pleasantly surprised last night to hear NPR book reviewer Alan Cheuse covering "perhaps the greatest Japanese science-fiction novel of all time", Ryu Mitsuse's 1967 book 百億の昼と千億の夜 (Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights). (Usually the only sf he pays attention to is of the Stephen King/Michael Crichton variety.)



The premise of the novel is reminiscent of the kind of extravagant metaphysical drama that Roger Zelazny was known for, and its psychedelic overtones reflect the zeitgeist of the time. Here's how the publisher's blurb describes it.

Ten billion days—that is how long it will take the philosopher Plato to determine the true systems of the world. One hundred billion nights—that is how far into the future Jesus of Nazareth, Siddhartha, and the demigod Asura will travel to witness the end of all worlds.

Sounds trippy. This is one of the few works of Mitsuse-san's to be translated into English. Another is his novelette, The Sunset, 2217 A.D., which was included in Frederik Pohl's anthology, Best Science Fiction for 1972. Let's hope we see even more in the future.

10 Billion Days And 100 Billion Nights reviewed by Alan Cheuse

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Darrell K. Sweet (1934 - 2011)

R. I. P. Darrell K. Sweet (1934 - 2011). While he did many classic sf covers, in my mind he'll always be associated most strongly with Alan Dean Foster's "Flinx" books.









[pics via ISFDB]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Unstuck in Time

Mind Over Matters recently featured an interview with Prof. Gregory Sumner, author of Unstuck in Time: A Journey Through Kurt Vonnegut's Life and Novels.



Prof. Sumner clearly has great respect for the author and makes a good case for his continuing relevance. Unfortunately he's also eager to conspire with Vonnegut in distancing him from the dreaded label "science fiction." Vonnegut had no problem publishing in magazines like Galaxy Science Fiction and If (then being edited by Frederik Pohl), but the minute he hit the big time he did everything he could to renounce any connection to the genre. It's an understandable if not entirely admirable stance to take, and it's too bad Sumner didn't do more to set the record straight. The fact is that Vonnegut relied on sf tropes throughout his career, no matter how hard he and his biographer may try to deny it.

Interview with Prof. Gregory Sumner

Friday, December 2, 2011

Futures

As you may know, the prestigious science journal Nature features a science fiction story in each issue in a section called "Futures." The stories are always very good and are usually by people actually working in the sciences. In 2007 editor Henry Gee published an anthology of the short fiction, Futures from Nature.


Nature also has an excellent weekly podcast and they've recently added an extra in which Henry Gee reads the sf story from the current issue. This week it's "Gifts of the Magi" by Anatoly Belilovsky, who has been described elsewhere as "a New York pediatrician who learned English from Star Trek reruns." (You can find the previous podcast stories in the archive.) They're soliciting feedback from their listeners about this extra, so if you enjoy it and you want to hear more sf along with your science news shoot them an email letting them know.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mystery Science Radio Bonus Show



A follow-up to the Holiday 2011 show. "This is intended to be the final episode of Mystery Science Radio for now ..." I guess DJ Frederick wants to focus on his other show, Radio Thrift Shop.

Holiday Show Lost Tapes

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Biggest Freak Band in the Galaxy



"It was like Star Trek with long hair and drugs." -- Lemmy

Tim Cumming's documentary about the anarchic collaborative that is Hawkind is full of great moments. Not only the unglamorous origins of the band's name - it basically means "loogie fart" - but also the night Michael Moorcock introduced Arthur C. Clarke to William S. Burroughs and they "got on like a house on fire." So even though Dave Brock refused to take part you'll want to watch it, and hear about the time Mick Farren helped tear down the fence at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, because music should be free for all the people. Right on!

[via Dangerous Minds, again]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mystery Science Radio Holiday 2011 Show


A Dalek Christmas, in search of The Shaggs, Ed Wood, and of course an off-beat cover of "Stairway to Heaven"...now that's what I call holiday cheer.


#21 - Holiday 2011 Show part one (59 mins)
#21 - Holiday 2011 Show part two (30 mins)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Farewell, Anne McCaffrey

Popular sf Grand Master Anne McCaffrey died a few days ago. She's gave us such books as The Ship Who Sang (1961), Decision at Doona (1969), and Dinosaur Planet (1978).

(Cover by Michael Whelan)

Her most famous work is of course her award winning Dragonriders of Pern series, which skillfully blends the tropes of high fantasy with a believable science fiction setting. Although she continued to add to the saga throughout her career my favorites will always be the first three books, Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1971), and The White Dragon (1978). The vividly imagined world of Pern is a remarkable achievement that ensures her legacy in the sf pantheon and one for which fans like me will always be grateful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Humanoid Typhoon



Today, some gratuitous Trigun. The movie, Trigun: Badlands Rumble, has been out for a month, but I haven't watched it yet. Maybe this weekend. But it's nice to have the whole TV series about everybody's favorite quirky, pacifist gunslinger available online. So here's the first episode of Madhouse's adaptation of Yasuhiro Nightow's Seiun Award winning manga.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What a Good Way to Go...

Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters in action.


mr. atavist lays some Robert Calvert, Hawkwind, and other groovy tracks on us.

What a Good Way to Go... (2hrs)

Friday, November 18, 2011

PKD interview from 1979

 
(Art by R. Crumb)

An in-depth interview of Horselover Fat by fellow sf author Charles Platt from the psychedelic days of 1979. PKD was also recently featured on the Science Channel's show, Prophets of Science Fiction. The show's pattern is to offer a potted history of an sf author's life and then interject segments tying their work to current scientific research. One of the better things about it is the commentary by Kim Stanley Robinson and, in the case of the PKD episode, David Brin. No mention of the Exegesis in that episode, though.



[via Dangerous Minds]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The World Masters


The World Masters (1903) by George Griffith

When a device capable of controlling all the electricity on the planet falls into a young engineer's hands can he keep it safe from French and Russian imperialists and use it to bring about world peace? Bleiler comments, "An invention, exploitation, plots, peace vigilantes, and extended romances. More romance and less action than in the earlier works."


Produced by Malcolm Farmer and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Side Effects of 6 Fictional Drugs



Since at least the days of H. G. Wells' "The New Accelerator", sf has been prescribing fictional pharmaceuticals for literary purposes. Cordrazine, kalocin, kerasine - just of few of the many imaginary medicines that can have undesirable side effects. Gabe Habash of Publishers Weekly gives a rundown of 6 Fictional Drugs with Unintended Side Effects.

[via Disinfo]

Monday, November 14, 2011

Psyche

(Cover by Jan Toorop)


Psyche (1898, trans. by B. S. Berrington, 1908) by Louis Couperus

A fairy tale like Maeterlinck's later play The Blue Bird, based on the ancient story of Psyche.


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Last Man on Earth (1964)



As a follow-up to my last post, here's The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price. Although the antagonists here are vampires this film is the direct inspiration for today's "zombie apocalypse" movies.

From The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:
L'ultimo uomo della terra

Film (1964; vt The Last Man on Earth). La Regina/Alta Vista. Directed by Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo Ragona, starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia. Screenplay Logan Swanson (pseudonym of Richard Matheson, who disliked the rewrite), William P Leicester, based on Matheson's I Am Legend (1954). 86 minutes. Black and white.

This Italian/US coproduction was the first film version of Matheson's novel about the lone survivor of a plague whose victims become vampires, a metamorphosis for which the novel, unlike the film, provides an ingenious medical explanation. Each night the survivor is besieged in his house by "vampires", and each day he kills as many as he can while they sleep. Finally, however, they succeed in trapping and killing him. The film has a reputation as being dreadful, but arguably it captures the brutalization of its hero in the human world's last gasp better than the remake, The Omega Man (1971), and it is certainly truer to the novel. The film truest to the novel's spirit, though with a different plot, is Night of the Living Dead (1968). [PN/JB]

Friday, November 11, 2011

Panic in Year Zombie!

Despite not being a huge fan of the carnivorous undead sub-genre that's all the rage right now I've been enjoying AMC's TV adaptation of Kirkman, Moore, and Adlard's The Walking Dead.



Along with being an obvious pastiche of George A. Romero's Dead movies, I'm also struck by the affinities to the broader post-holocaust genre. Not only obvious works like Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend (1954), which got the whole ball rolling, but also with the more numerous fictions about the aftermath of nuclear war.



While the threat of nuclear annihilation has been replace by the menace of a plague of undead hordes the stories and the characters are otherwise surprisingly similar. The ruthlessness of otherwise civilized people in their quest for survival is a dominant theme, and was foregrounded in Ray Milland's Panic in Year Zero! (1962).



Even the "zombies" have their parallels in the mutants that threatened the survivors of the nuclear wasteland, as in Roger Corman's first film, The Day the World Ended (1956).



As the series progresses it will be interesting to see how it treats the tropes of post-holocaust fiction. Will it compose a new arrangement or simply play a familiar refrain?

Monday, November 7, 2011

2012 Isaac Asimov Science Award

Congratulations to NPR’s Ira Flatow for winning The American Humanist Association's 2012 Isaac Asimov Science Award.

(Pic via UCTV)
"Ira Flatow is best known as the host of National Public Radio’s popular Science Friday and past host of Newton’s Apple, a television science program for kids. Science Friday hosts a lively , informative discussion on science, technology, health, space, and the environment. Flatow is also founder and president of Talking Science, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating radio, TV, and Internet projects that make science “user friendly.” He’s appeared on the Today Show, Oprah, and Charlie Rose, and he’s received numerous awards including the National Science Teachers Association Science Faraday Communicator Award. In 2009 he made a cameo appearance on the popular television show, The Big Bang Theory. In addition to Flatow, the AHA will be honoring the prolific journalist and activist Gloria Steinem with the 2012 Humanist of the Year award. Other awardees include actor George Takei, best known for his role on the television series Star Trek, and Debra Sweet, national director of the peace organization World Can’t Wait."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mystery Science Radio - Post Halloween Bonus Show


"The strange pirate radio adventures of the crew of the Jefferson Airship ... "

Daleks, MacArthur Park, and Torgo is taken to a play.

Post Halloween Bonus Show

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hootenanny

(Art by Virgil Finlay)

Happy Halloween! The festivities may be over but since today is the actual holiday what better way to celebrate than jamming to some ghoulish grooves? First up is Niall O'Conghaile's Disco Argento 2: The Sequel, another collection of "horror/disco cash-in records." Then we have Rural War Room Radio's Monsters and Mayhem Show, an eclectic mix of off-beat spooky songs. From Sun Ra to Dusty Springfield to Mothra's Theme it's all here. And finally there's Gutter Satisfaction's punk-rock Halloween show, Spooky Juice. The Cramps, The Ramones, Messer Chups - this is a Halloween show for people who are too cool for Halloween shows.

Disco Argento 2: The Sequel! by theniallist

Monsters and Mayhem Show (02hrs04mins)

Spooky Juice (01hr57mins)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

RiffTrax: Night Of The Living Dead



In ancient times is was said that even the Olympian gods themselves were not safe from Momus, the god of mockery. Today the RiffTrax crew proves that goes double for critically acclaimed sf movies. George A. Romero's landmark Night of the Living Dead (1968) bit so deeply into the collective imagination that today "zombies" have infected every nook and cranny of pop culture. While some of his shambling imitators are more deserving of ridicule than he is it's still a treat to see this classic get the iconoclastic MST3K treatment.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Dunwich Horror


Before H. P. Lovecraft's novelette The Dunwich Horror (1928) was made into a campy film in 1970 it featured on 1940's radio. Staged as a live broadcast this radio play stars Academy Award winning British actor Ronald Colman and is much more faithful to the original story. The audio is a bit scratchy, but that works in the show's favor and lends itself to the feeling of hearing a remote feed.

Suspense (01 Nov 45) "The Dunwich Horror" 25m43s


[via the Internet Archive]

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hellsing Ultimate VIII PV



Nothing says Halloween like a new chapter of the Hellsing Ultimate OVA. Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for the final two installments.The last chapter ended in a spectacular cliffhanger. As chapter 8 opens, the Nazi vampires have overrun Britain, the Vatican legions are preparing for a riconquista of isle, and the Hellsing Organization has been decimated. I'm going to watch this over the weekend to find out if even Alucard can overcome those odds.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Disco Argento mix


It's the Halloween season and that means it's time to boogie. So shake your booty to Niall O'Conghaile's "Disco Argento mix, a compilation of late 70s and early 80s horror movie-inspired discomania put together for Glasgow’s Menergy club. It features dancefloor versions of the themes from Phantasm, Friday the 13th, Dawn Of The Dead, Amittyville and Demons, some score tracks and a few soul horror cash-ins." The danse macabre was never so funky.

THE NIALLIST Disco Argento Mix by Menergy Mixes

Full tracklist at Dangerous Minds

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Body Snatchers


John Dickson Carr's radio adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body-Snatcher" (1884). Gaslight notes that the promotional campaign for the story was quite sensational. "Unique and gruesome methods of advertising were used...and much attention was drawn to the story. In London, posters were displayed of so ghoulish and startling a character that they were suppressed by the police."

Suspense (24 Nov 42) "The Body Snatchers" 29m32s


[via the Internet Archive]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mystery Science Radio #19 Epic Halloween Special 2011


Epic Halloween Special
"When we last heard from our heroes they had abandoned the Yellow Submarine. Their strange offshore / underwater pirate radio adventure continues..."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Signalman


Before Agnes Moorehead made Darrin Stephens' life miserable she had a long career in film and radio. She appeared in more episodes of Suspense than any other actor or actress. The "first lady of Suspense," as she was known, stars here in an adaptation of Charles Dickens' "The Signal-Man." H. P. Lovecraft mentioned this story in his study, Supernatural Horror in Literature (1927), remarking that it is "a tale of ghostly warning...and touched with a verisimilitude which allies it as much with the coming psychological school as with the dying Gothic school."

Suspense (23 Mar 53) "The Signalman" 28m54s

Friday, October 21, 2011

Soul Eater



If there's an anime that has a Halloween ambiance it's studio Bones' adaptation of Atsushi Okubo's Soul Eater. Okubo has cleverly appropriated and redeployed the motifs of Western pop-culture Gothic in an amusing and unconventional way. (One unfortunate side effect of this is that the series perpetuates negative stereotypes about witches, without much concern for viewers of the Wicca faith.)

The story revolves around meister Maka Albarn and her weapon Soul Eater, who like other weapons is capable of taking human form. Both are students at the DWMA technical school, which is training them to prevent the reappearance of the Kishin, evil demon gods that once ravaged the world. The goal of the meisters is to have their weapons defeat and absorb the souls of 99 evil humans and one witch, which will turn the weapons into super-powerful Death Scythes.

While in general the story is rather conventional shonen fare of the Bleach variety, Soul Eater's distinctively stylized presentation and quirky characters help set it apart. The anime is mostly faithful to the manga, at least until the battle against Arachnophobia. The translation is adequate, but a few of the episodes refer to the Kishin as "Afreets" for some reason. And keep an eye peeled for a Twin Peaks allusion, although in this case instead of a dancing dwarf it's a dancing imp.

Update: I just thought I should mention that the Twin Peaks allusion comes in episode 12, not in the first episode that I posted here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hitchhiker starring Orson Welles


The talented Orson Welles stars in "The Hitchhiker." You'll probably recognize the story, which was later adapted for The Twilight Zone. In an entertaining introduction he promises the tale contains none of the "phosphorescent foolishness" of so many other spook stories.

Suspense (02 Sep 42) "The Hitchhiker" 29m17s


[via The Internet Archive]

Monday, October 17, 2011

Etidorhpa, or The End of Earth

Illustrations by J. Augustus Knapp

Etidorhpa or the End of Earth (1896) by John Uri Lloyd


From The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

Lloyd, John Uri (1849-1936) US chemist, author of Etidorhpa, or The End of Earth: The Strange History of a Mysterious Being and the Account of a Remarkable Journey (1895; rev vt 1901), a metaphysical FANTASTIC VOYAGE in which the narrator – whose manuscript has been discovered by Lloyd – is led by a blind humanoid named I-Am-The-Man to a LOST WORLD in the interior of the Earth, which he excitedly explores while gaining occult enlightenment into the higher forms of love (the title is Aphrodite reversed). Etidorhpa, which went through eleven or more editions, is noteworthy for its bitter attack on the rational sciences. Like other notable HOLLOW-EARTH works of the period, the geography of Etidorhpa derives from the theories of John Cleves SYMMES. [JE/JC]

Produced by Pat McCoy, Suzanne Shell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Pit and the Pendulum


Another tale calculated to keep you in suspense - or at least get you into the Halloween mood. Today, the suave Vincent Price stars in John Dickson Carr's adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic tale, "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1843). Price was so talented that he could easily have carried the whole show with a straight reading of the story, but it's still an entertaining treatment.

Suspense (10 Nov 57) "The Pit and the Pendulum" 24m40s


[via The Internet Archive]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Riabouchinska


In order to get into the Halloween spirit this year I've decided to post some old episodes of the CBS Radio drama Suspense. First up, an eerie mystery story from none other than Ray Bradbury.

Suspense (13 Nov 47) "Riabouchinska" 29m33s

[via The Internet Archive]

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wild Zero

Director Tetsuro Takeuchi's Wild Zero (2000) is an off-beat, garage horror movie that perfectly captures the raw attitude of Guitar Wolf.



The film opens with a fleet of UFOs racing toward Earth. As the radio broadcasts news of a meteorite crashing to earth, young Ace (Masashi Endo) is combing Brylcreem into his pompadour. He's off to see his idols, Guitar Wolf, in concert. As for the Wolves, they've had enough of Captain (Makoto Inamiya), the eccentric and sleazy club owner who gave them their start. Ace interrupts the ensuing Mexican standoff, blurting out the unforgettable line, "Rock 'n Roll is NOT over, baby! Rock 'n Roll NEVER DIES!" After the resulting shootout, Guitar Wolf makes Ace his blood brother. He also gives him a wolf whistle, telling him to blow it if he needs help. For his part, Captain, who just lost several fingers, is out for revenge against the Wolves.

Meanwhile, three friends, Toshi (Yoshiyuki Morishita), Hanako (Taneko), Masao (Masao), are on a road trip to see the meteorite. They pull into a gas station where they find Tobio (Kwancharu Shitichai), a young hitchhiker. Suddenly, Masao snaps, pulls some knives and tries to hold the place up. Just then who should show up but Ace? When he opens the door it hits Masao in the face, and the three friends flee. Ace is glad to play the hero for Tobio, and the two take to each other immediately. Elsewhere, a soldier (Haruka Nakajo) waits by the roadside. She's planning to sell weapons to some yakuza, who unbeknownst to her have been ambushed by zombies. As the zombies rampage and the UFOs swarm the cities of Earth, all these characters will intersect in ways they might not have expected.

Like one of Guitar Wolves songs, this movie belts itself out with an energy all its own. Although descended from films like The Return of the Living Dead (1985), it has more of the underground feel of a cult classic like Repo Man (1984). It rides a wave of raucous garage punk by the likes of Teengenerate, Bikini Kill, Oblivians, The Devil Dogs, and of course Guitar Wolf themselves. What the Wolves lack in dialogue they make up for in presence, with Drum Wolf and the late Bass Wolf slicking back their hair every chance they get. Inamiya-san turns in a brilliant performance as the flamboyant Captain, and almost steals the show. And there's a welcome nod to George A. Romero when the characters begin asking if any of them has seen Night of the Living Dead.

The zombies here have a ghastly blue pallor, giving them a garish menace that only adds to the film. Rest assured that their heads explode with the the graphic regularity that zombie movie fans expect. And in a clever twist on conventions, Ace has a moment of erotic panic when he discovers that Tobio is a ladyboy. The spirit of Guitar Wolf appears to admonish him, "Love has no borders, nationalities, or genders!" For surprisingly this quirky splatter flick is ultimately about the power of love to overcome all obstacles.

According to Wikipedia, Guitar Wolf has begun looking for a sponsor for the sequel, Wild Zero 2. After the credits roll we see Captain rise for the dead, still set on revenge. If that second film ever gets made he just might get his chance.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sentiment, Inc.

Science Fiction Stories, #1 1953


Sentiment, Inc. by Poul Anderson

"The way we feel about another person, or about objects, is often bound up in associations that have no direct connection with the person or object at all. Often, what we call a "change of heart" comes about sheerly from a change in the many associations which make up our present viewpoint. Now, suppose that these associations could be altered artificially, at the option of the person who was in charge of the process...."



Produced by Greg Weeks, Dianna Adair and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Friday, October 7, 2011

"I reach that, brother."

B-movie character actor Charles Napier has passed away. I'll always remember him for his rôle as Adam in episode 75 of TOS, "The Way To Eden". That's the episode where a group of space hippies, led astray by the Timothy Leary-like Dr. Sevrin, try to subvert the the order and discipline of the Enterprise.



Not only was it a typically zany third season installment, but like the earlier pro-Vietnam War episode, "A Private Little War", it illustrates that despite a general Wellsian sense of progressiveness the show never strayed too far from the conservative shibboleths that were de rigueur for 1960's US TV. Even so it's fun to watch Spock get funky in a space hippy jam session. An interesting bit of trivia is that it was originally planned that one of the hippies would be Dr. McCoy's daughter. But since they'd recently added the character of Chekov to the cast to increase the show's youth appeal they changed her into his old girlfriend, Irina.

[via Dangerous Minds]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rock 'N' Roll JET-Movie

Here's something for the weekend's viewing. Wild Zero, a grindhouse zombie flick starring Japanese rock 'n' roll rebels, Guitar Wolf.



I haven't seen it yet myself, but I can't imagine being disappointed. There's nothing quite like a Japanese zombie film. And in my book zombies + Guitar Wolf = win. The soundtrack alone makes it worth watching.

[via Dangerous Minds]

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pick and choose

There's nothing quite like going to a big used book sale. Weaving your way through the aisles, squinting at the crowded spines and dodging the (sometimes dodgy) other bibliophiles. Then there's that little thrill, that minor exultation, at finding a real treasure. This time there were a couple of gems wedged between the innumerable Star Trek and Dragonlance volumes.



I was pleased to find a copy of the The Best of Henry Kuttner (1975) and even more pleased to find it was in near-mint condition -- for just 50¢! Nice. I also picked up The Startling Worlds of Henry Kuttner, also in fine condition (though not quit as cheap).

I found a few others to add to my collection, like Aldiss' Cryptozoic!, Davidson's Peregrine: Secundus and Forrest J. Ackerman's collection of A. E. van Vogt stories, Monsters. I even grabbed Lin Carter's early study of hobbitry, Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings". None of these were in the best of shape, but they weren't too tatty, and the Carter book is a first edition.

The real find of the day took me by surprise. It's so rare to find books by him. Even among the fancy-schmancy trade paperbacks they're as rare as hen's teeth. But there it was and in excellent condition. The Dell paperback edition of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.'s Breakfast of Champions.



Okay, so it's not a first edition, it's the seventh printing. But just finding a Vonnegut, let alone one in great shape is good enough for me. So it goes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dragon Spooker



Some gratuitous Slayers, just because Hajime Kanzaka's humorous take on the fantasy genre is one of the funniest there is. All of the TV series are available online, Slayers, Slayers NEXT, Slayers TRY, Slayers REVOLUTION, and Slayers EVOLUTION-R.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Great War in England in 1897


The Great War in England in 1897 (1894) by William Le Queux


Another reactionary future war story of the kind Michael Moorcock anthologized in Before Armageddon (1975) and England Invaded (1977). The author makes no bones about his intention.
"In writing this book it was my endeavour to bring vividly before the public the national dangers by which we are surrounded, and the absolute necessity which lies upon England to maintain her defences in an adequate state of efficiency."

He forgot to add "Harrumph"! Bleiler dryly comments, "Routine adventure, not remarkable for geographical accuracy or much else." 


I accidentally quoted Bleiler's comment on The Eye of Ishtar (1897) there. What he said about this book was that it is "By no means as significant as the author's later The Invasion of 1910."


Produced by Moti Ben-Ari and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tiger & Bunny 25



Episode 25, "Eternal immortality"

As the first season draws to a close, Maverick's evil schemes have been thwarted, but at what cost? What will become of our heroes now? Will they ever solve the mystery of Ouroboros?

Comet's Burial

Science Fiction Stories, #1 1953
Cover by Alex Schomburg


"Comet's Burial" by Raymond Z. Gallun

"A man may be a scoundrel, a crook, a high-phased confidence man, and still work toward a great dream which will be worth far more than the momentary damage his swindles cost."


Produced by Greg Weeks, Dianna Adair and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Need a Solid Year Removed From Solid Light



mr. atavist rocks us with another jamtastic installment of The Sunrise Ocean Bender featuring a few songs with sf overtones, like "Zombie Warfare" by Chrome, "Spice Melange Spectrum" by The Cosmic Dead, and "Moonjuice" by Radar Men From the Moon.

The Sunrise Ocean Bender 01
The Sunrise Ocean Bender 02