Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Slayer of Souls

The Slayer of Souls (1920) by Robert W. Chambers

"Only when the Nan-yang Maru sailed from Yuen-San did her terrible sense of foreboding begin to subside.

For four years, waking or sleeping, the awful subconsciousness of supreme evil had never left her.

But now, as the Korean shore, receding into darkness, grew dimmer and dimmer, fear subsided and grew vague as the half-forgotten memory of horror in a dream."

Produced by Chris Curnow, Michael, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading

Tokusatsu Tuesday

Jetman, because Turbopropman just doesn't have the same ring. And now the classical rendition.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Beautiful People

If, September 1952

"The Beautiful People" by Charles Beaumont

"Mary was a misfit. She didn't want to be beautiful. And she wasted time doing mad things—like eating and sleeping."

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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

Atom Man In Metropolis Part 17
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 18
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 19

Superman recovers but can he stop the Atom Man in time? Find out as the transcription feature comes to its dramatic conclusion.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tiger & Bunny 02

I'm enjoying this show so much that I'm going to keep posting it. I know I'm about a week behind, but I had to watch a few episodes to be sure I liked it. You can always catch the latest episode each Saturday. And be sure to keep watching after the credits. There's always one more scene at the end of each episode.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Just Say Takei

George is awesome. It's OK to be Takei!

Nyan Cat FLY!

You loved watching Nyan Cat, now be Nyan Cat. Play this game and guarantee that you will never get that tune out of your head, ever.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Music for Robots

Back in 1961 the Ackermonster provided narration for the electronica LP by Frank Allison Coe, Music for Robots. It's not Stockhausen, but it's an interesting example of musical experimentation. The cover, seen in the above ad, featured Forry's face superimposed on the robot from the cheesy drive-in flick, Tobor the Great (1954).

Tone Tales From Tomorrow (instrumental)

Tin Age Story (with Forry sharing his thoughts on robots)

[via Dangerous Minds]

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tokusatsu Tuesday

At one time or another haven't we all thought that Spider-Man needed his own bad-ass mecha?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Master of Kung Fu

As Don Markstein has commented, Marvel Comics was "always ready to jump on any bandwagon that might sell comic books." So in 1973, with the hit TV show Kung Fu on the air and Bruce Lee becoming a superstar, writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin proposed adding an Eurasian martial artist to the Marvel lineup. And so Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, premiered in December, 1973 in the pages of Special Marvel Edition #15, (making him possibly the only character whose series begins with issue number 15). Since Marvel had just acquired the rights from Sax Rohmer's estate to his infamous villain Fu Manchu they decided to combine the two and appeal to the spirit of youthful rebellion by making the new character his rebellious son.

Rohmer himself was an odd duck. He made his living writing lurid thrillers that often featured occult or science fictional elements (e.g. death rays). But he could only write when in a particular mood. When he and his wife, who both lived an extravagant lifestyle, found themselves short of cash she would start a fight with him and then lock him in a room with a typewriter. In a rage he would rattle out his next potboiler which would keep them in champagne for a few more months. He had the most success with his Yellow Peril novels featuring the ridiculously named Chinese master criminal, Fu Manchu. He claims to have based the character on a crime-boss named "Mr. King" he heard rumors of while visiting Limehouse as a reporter. He also claimed to have been a member of The Golden Dawn, and at one point he even insisted that Fu Manchu himself had materialized at the foot of his bed one night to commend his writing. If nothing else the guy had a flair for the dramatic.

By making the protagonist of this new series an Asian (or at least half-Asian) hero, Marvel put an important twist on what William S. Burroughs once called "the racist garbage of the insidious Sax Rohmer." In addition to the obvious Oedipal themes, the series can be read as an attempt by an Asian character to combat the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the Yellow Peril genre. As Shang-Chi battled the minions of his father he was symbolically striking out at the prejudices of society at large. And while the stoic and philosophical Shang-Chi was something of a stereotype himself (although arguably a positive rather than negative one) his long running series transformed the continuing stories of Fu Manchu from an oppression document into a tale of empowerment. A fitting accomplishment for a Master of Kung Fu.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

Atom Man In Metropolis Part 13
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 14
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 15
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 16

Can pop-culture ephemera be a social commentary on something that has yet to happen? Can this radio series from the 1940s, in which The Man of Steel is laid low by radiation, become a commentary on the continuing nuclear crisis in Japan? Are the Atom Man's attacks on Metropolis a metaphor for the way this nuclear meltdown threatens people today? I certainly find it a provocative coincidence. On a more prosaic note, fans of classic movies will have noticed that the villain Sydney is an homage to the famous character actor Sydney Greenstreet, who made memorable appearances in films like The Maltese Falcon (1941).

Fukushima Update via Science Friday

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tiger & Bunny 01

In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the first episode of the superhero anime, Tiger & Bunny. It's a clever twist on the genre in which all of the heroes have corporate sponsors. It doesn't take itself too seriously, so if you liked the humorous touches in Batman: The Brave and the Bold you'll probably dig it.


Friday, May 20, 2011

R.I.P. Jeffrey Jones

January 10, 1944 - May 19, 2011

[via Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

Meanwhile on the moors...

Luckily Shang-Chi always carried shortbread in his pocket, so he was easily able to appease the ghostly Scotsman.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Invasion of 1910

The Invasion of 1910: with a Full Account of the Siege of London (1906) by William Le Queux and H. W. Wilson

"The Invasion of 1910 is a 1906 novel written mainly by William Le Queux (with H. W. Wilson providing the naval chapters). It is one of the more famous examples of Invasion literature and is an example of pre-World War I Germanophobia, as it preached the need to prepare for war with Germany." Wikipedia

There were many, many stories of this type published in that era as I. F. Clarke made a career of showing. The European nations were itching for WWI. Other notable examples are The War in the Air (1908) by H.G. Wells, "The Swoop!, Or, How Clarence Saved England" (1909) by P. G. Wodehouse, and "The Secret of the Army Aeroplane" (1909) by A. A. Milne, the creator of Winnie-the-Pooh.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mysterypiece Theater

Cherokee Jack presents "The Worst" by Josh Allen - a musical about the life and times of Ed Wood Jr.
The Worst

There's a little bit of repetition in Cherokee Jack's intro. Maybe it's time to change the CO2 scrubbers on the Yellow Submarine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


This one goes out to Professor Stephen Hawking.

Ambiguously Gay Duo

Robert Smigel's parody of superheroes is a one-note affair, especially when compared to more thorough spoofs of the genre like Ben Edlund's The Tick, but it's still funny.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The last blast-off

The crew members for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

During the 16-day mission, Endeavour and its crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

Atom Man In Metropolis Part 09
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 10
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 11
Atom Man In Metropolis Part 12

These Superman radio dramas are getting to be a bit like Dragon Ball Z in that there's more building up to action than actual action. I suppose when you have to do a daily show you stretch things out. And Louis Lane has been conspicuously absent lately. Maybe actress Joan Alexander was working on another project.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Polysics - Rocket

'Cause I can never get enough of the Polysics.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Viking Funerals

Science fiction occasionally involves some strange coincidences. I don't mean the fictional ones, which are usually the result of bad writing. I mean the real ones, where two authors seem to be experiencing telepathy or something. For example, in 1967 both Brian W. Aldiss with An Age (aka Cryptozoic!) and PKD with Counter-Clock World wrote challenging novels where time ran backwards. Then in 1979 both Arthur C. Clarke's The Fountains of Paradise and Charles Sheffield's The Web Between the Worlds featured the building of a space elevator.

Another weird coincidence showed up in both the season premiere of Dr. Who and the season finale of Fringe. (If you haven't seen them yet there will be some spoilers ahead, so be forewarned.) For one thing both featured the killing of the lead character. The two-part opener of Dr. Who had everybody's favorite Time Lord getting blasted by a mysterious figure in a vintage Apollo spacesuit. In Fringe, a future Olivia gets offed by a vengeful Walternet. As if that weren't enough there was an even bigger coincidence to come. Both characters are sent to their final rest by being placed in a boat which is set on fire and set adrift. That's right, they're both given Viking funerals.

I don't know what the odds are of two different show on two different continents having exactly the same major plot developments, but I'm sure they're astronomical. Other than that the shows each took very surprising turns.

In DW, Amy may or may not have been pregnant. She keeps having visions of a woman wearing a metal eye-patch looking in at her through a peephole. I'm not sure what to make of that. In any case we've seen a picture of her holding a baby and later seen an orphan girl who can regenerate. Which strongly suggests that River is Amy's daughter, although how many red herrings are involved in all this is hard to tell.

Meanwhile, Fringe took a dramatic twist when it revealed that Olivia's death was just one possible future that Peter was witnessing, and then abruptly veered into left field by having Peter merge the two universes -- and then vanish from existence! It was like that Red Dwarf episode "The Inquisitor" where that rouge mechanoid goes around erasing "unworthy" people from time and no one remembers they ever existed. I have no idea how they'll resolve that story line, but it was one hell of a cliffhanger.

There are obviously a good deal of overlap between the plot devices employed by the two shows. Both of them draw more heavily on the tropes of Horror fiction than those of science fiction. I'm not going to start some futile squabble by claiming they aren't science fiction, but I do think they owe more to Stephan King than to, say, Frederik Pohl. In the US DW is even advertised as being part of "Supernatural Saturday." Maybe this more occult tilt to these shows has resulted in astral energies bringing their plots into brief alignment. Or maybe it's just that both shows rely so heavily on spectacle that they decided to kill their main charter and set them on fire in the hopes of lighting the way to higher ratings.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Freedom 7

"Fifty years ago, near the dawn of the space age, NASA controllers "lit the candle" and sent Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard arcing into space atop a Redstone rocket. His cramped space capsule was dubbed Freedom 7. Broadcast live to a global television audience, the historic Mercury-Redstone 3 (MR-3) spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral Florida at 9:34 a.m. Eastern Time on May 5, 1961. The flight of Freedom 7 - the first space flight by an American - followed less than a month after the first human venture into space by Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The 15 minute sub-orbital flight achieved an altitude of 116 miles [186.7 km] and a maximum speed of 5,134 miles per hour [8,262 km/h]. As Shepard looked back toward planet Earth near the peak of Freedom 7's trajectory, he could see the outlines of the west coast of Florida, Lake Okeechobe in central Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Bahamas."

via APOD

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Adventures of Superman

Atom Man In Metropolis 01
Atom Man In Metropolis 02
Atom Man In Metropolis 03
Atom Man In Metropolis 04

As our old time radio serial continues, Superman lies near death, struck down by the deadly radioactive blasts of the Atom Man, a villain determined to conquer the world. His first step: destroy Metropolis.

Meanwhile, the contemporary iteration of the stranger from the planet Krypton has ruffled feathers by threatening to renounce his US citizenship. That's right, reactionaries, who spend most of their time ranting about "illegal immigrants" are now apoplectic because pop-culture's most famous illegal immigrant is no longer pledging allegiance to their flag. Logical coherence was never their strong suit. Personally I don't find such actions particularly noteworthy. For one thing he's doing this in the context of opposition to the Iranian theocracy, which is strictly in line with Washington's agenda. If he had been opposing a US backed autocracy, like the the one in Bahrain, then it would be more impressive. In any case, Kal-El had better have is wallet ready. Recent changes in US law mean you have to pay hundreds of dollars to have your citizenship canceled. Uncle Sam is kind of a dick that way.