Thursday, March 31, 2011

Doctor Who Series 6 Trailer

Do you know who I think River Song is? I think she's the Jenny later in life, although I think it would be even cooler if she turned out to be Susan. Who do you think she is?

[via Dangerous Minds]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mystery Science Radio

Dream Episode

The ongoing adventures of the crew of the Yellow Submarine on their strange offhsore / underwater pirate radio station. Mystery Science Radio is a low tech homage to B Movies, obscure music, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic, Doctor Demento, shortwave radio, Coleman Francis, Ed Wood, and the Hal Warren cult film "Manos: The Hands of Fate"

The rendition of "MacArthur Park" in this episode is not to be missed. Too funny.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

The Atom Man Part 01
The Atom Man Part 02
The Atom Man Part 03
The Atom Man Part 04

This is the beginning of a major new story arch during which Superman will finally face a worthy adversary. First he must race to stop the mad scientist Der Teufel from completing his evil scheme to create an Atom Man, a kryptonite powered supervillain.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Here's a blast form the past. Douglas Adams' 1990 tech documentary Hyperland, which also stars Tom Baker as a "software agent". Here's how The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy might describe it.

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think hypertext is a pretty neat idea."

[via Dangerous Minds]

Motörhead Versus the System

There's a great review by Ben Terrall of Motörhead's The World is Yours over at Counterpunch.

After 35 years of raging against conformity and injustice, Motörhead still cuts through bullshit with alacrity. Lemmy explained recently that the new album's title is strictly sarcastic, as the world is now owned by banks, not rock and roll enthusiasts.

What does this have to do with sf? Lemmy had cameos in both Hardware (1990) and Citizen Toxie (2000), that's what.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Damnation Alley

Roger Zelazny's post-apocalyptic novel Damnation Alley (1969) is one of the few books to have both a song and a movie based on it. The film version, which has almost nothing to do with the original story, and the Hawkwind song, which does, both  make for a great mashup.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Please protect the people of Japan

Forwarded from Moorcock's Miscellany:


Please lend a hand!  Moorcock's Miscellany has begun its auction of three of Mike's most loved 1st edition books:


Proceeds to benefit the Red Cross!  PLEASE HELP!  There are also ways to make small donations in the article.

Berry, David and Donnie

Mystery Science Radio

The Master Returns

"There IS no number 13. You lucky listeners are getting a double dose of MSR this week. Because some weeks we will not be as productive. We might be sleeping in, or on vacation at McMurdo Station, or polishing the torpedo bays on the submarine or waxing Torgo's knees. You lucky, lucky people."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amazing Stories #2

"In the late 1920s and early 1930s a new literary phenomenon came into being in the United States. This was genre science-fiction, recognized as such and sold as such in between forty and fifty thousand newsstands, drugstores and tobacconists. Although American in origin, it had in part an international ancestry, what with the earlier science-fictions of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and others. But as it now developed, it was something new." E. F. Bleiler, Science-fiction: The Gernsback Years

"At a convention of astronomers, it is proposed that a great new telescope be constructed. It would use a "mercury mirror" along with an "ether beam" to destroy matter which might inhibit the transmission of light through the atmostphere. While exploring with the telescope after its construction, the scientists discover a nearly identical setup on Mars."

"Kirby lands on an Earth-like planet, where he is picked up and imprisoned with a beautiful female genius named Vinda. Kirby wants to return to Earth, but can't find it, so Vinda's uncle explains how he can at least find an alternative Earth. He finally returns, taking Vinda with him, to a slightly different Earth."

[Images via Golden Age Comic Book Stories, summaries via The Internet Speculative Fiction Database]

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Irradiated Zone

Tom Engelhardt has an interesting article on his site today. "Irradiated Zone: Don’t Go There! Missing in the Japan Catastrophe -- Thinking the Unthinkable" considers the nuclear crisis in Japan through his youthful memories of reading Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s sf classic A Canticle for Leibowitz (1955).

Canticle, like many novels of its era, was set in a new dark age after humans had destroyed so many of their own and so much of their civilization, leaving behind a mutant planet.  It didn’t take a lot of smarts to know how they did that either: with the newly discovered power of the atom -- already loosed on the perfectly real cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- aided and abetted by the hubris and bumbling of humanity.  (I hope, given the headlines of the moment, you see where I’m heading.) 

It's a natural comparison for someone raised in those days to make, although to be fair there's a big difference between a meltdown and the global thermonuclear war depicted in those books. Lester del Rey's Nerves (1956, revised 1976) which involves "atomjacks" fighting to avert a catastrophe at an atomic power plant might be a more apt reference, although it obviously isn't widely known. When it comes to the aftermath of such a crisis, the book that sprang to my mind was Michael Swanwick's In the Drift (1985) which depicts just the kind of irradiated exclusion zone we all fear might result if worse comes to worse.

Mystery Science Radio

Aunt Betty Visits

The ongoing adventures of the crew of the Yellow Submarine on their strange offhsore / underwater pirate radio station. Mystery Science Radio is a low tech homage to B Movies, obscure music, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic, Doctor Demento, shortwave radio, Coleman Francis, Ed Wood, and the Hal Warren cult film "Manos: The Hands of Fate"

Monday, March 21, 2011

A is for Atom

I'm very relieved to see that the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant appears to be going well. I'm glad the heroic technicians, firefighters and soldiers have the situation in hand and I wish them the best of luck in alleviating the crisis. To put things in historical perspective, British documentary film maker Adam Curtis has posted his film A is for Atom on his blog.

The film shows that from very early on - as early as 1964 - US government officials knew that there were serious potential dangers with the design of the type of reactor that was used to build the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But that their warnings were repeatedly ignored.

The film tells the story of the rise of nuclear power in America, Britain and the Soviet Union. It shows how the way the technologies were developed was shaped by the political and business forces of the time. And how that led directly to inherent dangers in the design of the containment of many of the early plants.

Curtis is an excellent filmmaker and I find all his documentaries riveting, especially the series this is part of, Pandora's Box, which interrogates the intersection of politics and science.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Palos of the Dog Star Pack

Palos of the Dog Star Pack (1918) by J. U. Giesy

"Mostly domestic matters and international intrigue on a planet around Sirius." E. F. Bleiler, Science-Fiction, The Early Years

Produced by Sankar Viswanathan, Greg Weeks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

The Adventures of Superman

The Scarlet Widow Part 07
The Scarlet Widow Part 08
The Scarlet Widow Part 09
The Scarlet Widow Part 10

With Superman rendered helpless by kryptonite radiation will his enemies prevail? And what evil scheme is Der Teufel hatching? Find out as the 1945 transcription feature continues.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Amazing Stories #1

"The first issue of the first science-fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback, a New York inventor and publisher of technical magazines, appeared on the stands and presumably arrived in the mail for subscriptions around the first week of March 1926. Within a little more than ten years, Amazing Stories and its later rivals numbered 345 issues..." E. F. Bleiler, Science-fiction: The Gernsback Years

"Professor Martyn invents a box that allows one to increase or decrease one's size. Kirby, wearing the device, makes himself increasingly larger, until he is larger than the universe. At his point he cannot easily shrink himself and still find the Earth, so he settles for a planet somewhat like Earth."

"While vacationing in Labrador, something begins to kill off the party - something which burns patterns into everything in its path, including rock."

"Strange globes of force appear across the world, removing chunks of land and ocean. The globes were sent by Martians, who are trying to steal Earth's water resources. The man who saves the Earth is Charles Huyck, who figures out how to disable the globes."

[Images via Golden Age Comic Book Stories, summaries via The Internet Speculative Fiction Database]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Things keep getting worse for the brave people of Japan. There seems to be no doubt that the nuclear crisis is now a Level 6 Event on the INES Scale. That would make it one of the worst in history.

Map via BBC

In addition to the danger of a meltdown there is a real danger that the spent fuel rods may causing a criticality accident. To understand just how bad that is consider what would happen if there were a pool fire at the nuclear waste storage facility at the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant as reported by Jeffrey St. Clair,

An October 2000 report from the Sandia Labs in Albuquerque painted a grim picture of the consequences from a pool fire. The report, which was kept under wraps for two years by the NRC, found that a waste pool fire could spread radioactive debris over a 500-mile [805 km] radius, including Cesium-137, a carcinogen linked to birth defects and genetic damage.

I think that there's a real danger that the evacuation zone surrounding the plant will have to become a permanent Exclusion Zone like the one around Chernobyl. I hope I'm wrong about all of this, but things seem to be going very badly right now.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


(Image © Max Papeschi)

It's Clean, It's Safe, It's Too Cheap to Meter.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm still in something of a state of shock over the catastrophe that has struck Japan. Here are some of the resources I've been using to keep up with events. The main one is NHK World TV which is providing a live stream.

Online video chat by Ustream

Radio Japan English has expanded it's normal broadcast to cover the disaster.

Earthquakes aren't isolated events and Japan continues to be hit by magnitude 5-6 shocks. The USGS provides live data about earthquakes worldwide, and as you can see the aftershocks hammering Japan continue.

The disaster has been compounded by the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima reactors. The IAEA is providing updates on the situation. However, given the nuclear industry's record of lying to the public, especially in times of crisis, I'm getting alternative news from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

This bird's-eye view from NASA’s Terra satellite shows the how terrible the deluge caused by the tsunami was.

Again I'm saddened by this disaster and extend my deepest condolences and best wishes to the all the Japanese peoples.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

The Scarlet Widow Part 03
The Scarlet Widow Part 04
The Scarlet Widow Part 05
The Scarlet Widow Part 06

The Scarlet Widow gathers Superman's foes - The Vulture, The Laugher, Papa Rausch, and Teufel - offering to sell the stolen kryptonite to the highest bidder. Although almost forgotten today, this radio series had a formative influence on Superman as we know him today. "Many aspects associated with Superman, such as kryptonite, originated on radio, as did certain characters, including Daily Planet editor Perry White, copy boy Jimmy Olsen and police inspector Bill Henderson."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mystery Science Radio

Trivia Episode

The ongoing adventures of the crew of the Yellow Submarine on their strange offhsore / underwater pirate radio station. Mystery Science Radio is a low tech homage to B Movies, obscure music, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic, Doctor Demento, shortwave radio, Coleman Francis, Ed Wood, and the Hal Warren cult film "Manos: The Hands of Fate"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kannon Bless You

My sympathies go out to all the Japanese people in this time of trouble. May the Goddess of Mercy bless you and keep you from harm.

Lovecraft rolls in his grave

Poor old Lovecraft. People just won't let him rest in peace. First the shade of the confirmed ludophobe had to endure his artistic legacy being turned into popular games like Call of Cthulhu and Mythos. Surely that must have prompted some smirking jibes at his expense in those afterlife soirées.

Now the ghost of the old gent must be mortified to watch what's being done with his fictional works. Despite the fact that they always had more of the science fictional than the supernatural about them there seem to be some people who insist on turning them into theologies. There's a very good overview of this baffling phenomenon in the article "The Influence of H P Lovecraft on Occultism" by K. R. Bolton.

Lovecraft’s horror stories have become not just a literary cult like many others, but a tangible cult of the occult. The Cthulhu Mythos of the Old Gods with Unspeakable names are evoked and worshipped, and respected practitioners of the esoteric use the symbolism and mythos as the basis of a magical system. This essay examines some of the individuals, orders and doctrines of the adherents of the Cthulhu Mythos.

If HPL were alive today to disavow such things would it make any difference? Would it stop any of these magick mummers from lighting candles, putting on robes and consulting ersatz Necronomicons? I doubt it. And just how long it will be before we see the cult of Harry Potter? "That question, so innocent and whimsical then, assumed in my dream a meaning of frenetic and hysterical madness…"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spock's scanner

Social media finds its way into the 23rd century in this hilarious short by BIackMoonCGI. It's all the more clever because there's no spoken dialogue.

[via Dangerous Minds]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shat-chan's Wakeup Call

The crew of STS-133 were treated to a wakeup call from Shat-chan yesterday. It's part of the farewell to the USA's civilian shuttle program which is coming to an inglorious end. American astronauts have gone from ticker tape parades to bumming rides on Soyuz flights. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is flush with cash and ramping up its military shuttle launches, determined to boost our tribal squabbles into orbit at taxpayer expense. But as Arthur C. Clarke observed, "There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum."

War of the Satellites

by Man or Astro-man?

Monday, March 7, 2011


Everything is better dubbed into Japanese, especially Star Trek.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

The Meteor From Krypton Part 01
The Meteor From Krypton Part 02
The Scarlet Widow Part 01
The Scarlet Widow Part 02

This marks something of a reboot for TAoS. While most of the intervening adventures haven't been much more challenging than what Johnny Quest might face, some have had science fiction themes. But none of them are available in their entirety on the web. By the time this story arc starts (September 1945) the show has become a daily broadcast with repeated ads for Pep cereal. It involves Clark Kent recounting Superman's origin story, which now includes Ma & Pa Kent, bringing it into continuity with the comic. Can he prevent The Scarlet Widow from getting her hands on a meteorite of deadly kryptonite?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Voice of the Young Kingdoms

OK, there's no such thing. But if MM fans did have something equivalent to The Voice of Middle Earth it might sound something like this...

"The Wizard Blew His Horn" Hawkwind

"Black Blade" by Blue Öyster Cult

"Elric the Enchanter" (live) by Hawkwind

"The Fall of Melnibone" by Dark Moor

"Fast To Madness" by Blind Guardian

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mystery Science Radio


The ongoing adventures of the crew of the Yellow Submarine on their strange offhsore / underwater pirate radio station. Mystery Science radio is a low tech homage to B Movies, obscure music, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic, Doctor Demento, "Teenage Strangler", Tor Johnson, Ed Wood, and the Hal Warren cult film "Manos: The Hands of Fate"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Solar System (1977)

A short educational film by ILM's Tom Smith. What I find really fascinating is that it was done entirely with analog SFX.

"Nearly all of the shots involved a moving camera. It was like animation with three dimensional model planets instead of cell images. We found the best material for the planets was hard wood. So we hired a Hollywood cabinet shop to make nine spheres for us, about 18 inches in diameter. These were sanded and painted to match images in astronomy books and observatory photos."

It's narrated by the apple of Gypsy's eye, Richard "Admiral Nelson" Basehart. And since it was made long before the discovery of the Kuiper belt it still counts the KBO Pluto as a planet.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Mad Planet

The Mad Planet (1920) by Murray Leinster

After civilization collapses as a result of catastrophic climate change the primitive humans of the future struggle to survive in the face of giant insects and huge fungi.

Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Polaris of the Snows

Polaris of the Snows (1915) by Charles B. Stilson

So short it's almost a novella, this book is described by E. F. Bleiler as "Lost-race adventure and a snowy Tarzan..." 

Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Voice of Middle Earth

The Voice of Middle Earth #8

Since DJ Frederick was nice enough to swing by the blog the least I can do is give a nod to the latest episode of VOME. Soothing tones to enjoy along with your pipe-weed. (I wonder if Elric will ever make a guest appearance?)