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Sci-Fi

We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the living-long-and-prospering dept.
New submitter DakotaSmith writes: io9 has an article explaining why We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now. If you're a true geek, you probably already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II. (If you're a true geek and you don't know about them, run — do not walk, run — to watch "Lolani." Your brain— and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more. How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"? Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei? For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor), not since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)
Sci-Fi

The X-Files To Return 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-episodes-are-out-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Fox announced today that The X-Files will return with six new episodes. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will both reprise their roles as Mulder and Scully, respectively, and show creator Chris Carter will return as well. Production begins this summer, but air dates are not yet known. The X-Files originally started in 1993 and ran for 9 seasons, spawning two feature films and a short-lived spinoff called The Lone Gunmen. It won 16 Emmy awards and 5 Golden Globe awards before critical reception soured over the last few seasons. Carter said, "I think of it as a 13-year commercial break. The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories."
Medicine

First Prototype of a Working Tricorder Unveiled At SXSW 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
the_newsbeagle writes The $10 million Tricorder X-prize is getting to the "put up or shut up" stage: The 10 finalists must turn in their working devices on June 1st for consumer testing. At SXSW last week, the finalist team Cloud DX showed off its prototype, which includes a wearable collar, a base station, a blood-testing stick, and a scanning wand. From the article: "The XPrize is partnering with the medical center at the University of California, San Diego on that consumer testing, since it requires recruiting more than 400 people with a variety of medical conditions. Grant Campany, director of the Tricorder XPrize, said he’s looking forward to getting those devices into real patients hands. 'This will be a practical demonstration of what the future of medicine will be like,' said Campany at that same SXSW talk, 'so we can scale it up after competition.'"
Mars

Kim Stanley Robinson Says Colonizing Mars Won't Be As Easy As He Thought 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the canceling-my-retirement-vacation dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from io9: Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy filled us all with hope that we could terraform Mars in the 21st century, with its plausible description of terraforming processes. But now, in the face of what we've learned about Mars in the past 20 years, he no longer thinks it'll be that easy. Talking to SETI's Blog Picture Science podcast, Robinson explains that his ideas about terraforming Mars, back in the 1990s, were based on three assumptions that have been called into question or disproved:

1) Mars doesn't have any life on it at all. And now, it's looking more likely that there could be bacteria living beneath the surface. 2) There would be enough of the chemical compounds we need to survive. 3) There's nothing poisonous to us on the surface. In fact, the surface is covered with perchlorates, which are highly toxic to humans, and the original Viking mission did not detect these. "It's no longer a simple matter," Robinson says. "It's possible that we could occupy, inhabit and terraform Mars. But it's probably going to take a lot longer than I described in my books."
Sci-Fi

Sir Terry Pratchett Succumbs To "the Embuggerance," Aged 66 299

Posted by timothy
from the now-the-world-is-worse-off dept.
New submitter sp1nl0ck writes Sir Terry Pratchett, the creator of Discworld, has died aged 66, following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease. Sir Terry announced that he was suffering from The Embuggerance in an open letter to fans over seven years ago, and recently had to cancel a planned appearance at the International Discworld Convention last summer, and donated over £500K of his own money to research into the condition. He also spoke in favour of a euthanasia tribunal, the members of which would consider the case of each '...applicant...to ensure they are of sound and informed mind, firm in their purpose, suffering from a life-threatening and incurable disease and not under the influence of a third party'. Sadly, he didn't survive long enough to see such a tribunal — or indeed any kind of assistance for those suffering from an incurable condition who wish to end their own life — come into being. More at the BBC.
Sci-Fi

Some of the Greatest Science Fiction Novels Are Fix-Ups 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the pendulum-swinging-back dept.
HughPickens.com writes: What do science fiction classics like Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, Bradbury's Martian Chronicles, Van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle, Simak's City, and Sturgeon's More Than Human have in common? Each of them is a "fix-up" — a novel constructed out of short stories that were previously published on their own. "This used to be one standard way to write a science fiction novel — publish a series of stories that all take place in the same world, and then knit them together into a book," says Charlie Jane Anders. "Sometimes a great deal of revision happened, to turn the separate stories into a single narrative and make sure all the threads joined up. Sometimes, the stories remain pretty separate but there are links between them."

The Golden Age science fiction publishing market was heavily geared toward magazines and short stories. And then suddenly, there was this huge demand for tons of novels. According to Andrew Liptak, this left many science fiction authors caught in a hard place: Many had come to depend on the large number of magazines on the market that would pay them for their work, and as readership declined, so too did the places in which to publish original fiction. The result was an innovative solution: repackage a number of preexisting short stories by adding to or rewriting portions of them to work together as a single story. This has its advantages; you get more narrative "payoff" with a collection of stories that also forms a single continuous meta-story than you do with a single over-arching novel — because each story has its own conclusion, and yet the story builds towards a bigger resolution. Fix-ups are a good, representative example of the transition that the publishing industry faced at the time, and how its authors adapted. Liptak says, "It's a lesson that's well-worth looking closely at, as the entire publishing industry faces new technological challenges and disruptions from the likes of self-publishing and micro-press platforms."
China

China's Arthur C. Clarke 187

Posted by timothy
from the visionaries-are-unevenly-distributed dept.
HughPickens.com writes Joshua Rothman has a very interesting article in The New Yorker about Liu Cixin, China's most popular science-fiction writer. The author of thirteen books has retained his day job as a computer engineer with a State-run power plant in a remote part of Shanxi province, because it helps him to stay grounded, enabling him to "gaze at the unblemished sky" as many of his co-workers do. In China, Cixin is about as famous as William Gibson in the United States and Cixin is often compared to Arthur C. Clarke, whom he cites as an influence. Rothman writes that American science fiction draws heavily on American culture, of course—the war for independence, the Wild West, film noir, sixties psychedelia—and so humanity's imagined future often looks a lot like America's past. For an American reader, one of the pleasures of reading Liu is that his stories draw on entirely different resources.

For example, in The Wages of Humanity, visitors from space demand the redistribution of Earth's wealth, and explain that runaway capitalism almost destroyed their civilization. In Taking Care of Gods, the hyper-advanced aliens who, billions of years ago, engineered life on Earth descend from their spaceships; they turn out to be little old men with canes and long, white beards. "We hope that you will feel a sense of filial duty towards your creators and take us in," they say. "I doubt that any Western sci-fi writer has so thoroughly explored the theme of filial piety," writes Rothman. In another story, The Devourer, a character asks, "What is civilization? Civilization is devouring, ceaselessly eating, endlessly expanding." But you can't expand forever; perhaps it would be better, another character suggests, to establish a "self-sufficient, introspective civilization." "At the core of Liu's sensibility," concludes Rothamn, "is a philosophical interest in the problem of limits. How should we react to the inherent limitations of life? Should we push against them or acquiesce?"
Graphics

'Chappie': What It Takes To Render a Robot 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-the-cycles-you-can-muster dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The visual-effects supervisor on the new film Chappie, Image Engine's Chris Harvey, talked with Dice about what it took to render the titular robot. Director Neil Blomkamp thought Chappie needed to look realistic, like something you might honestly expect to see patrolling the streets a decade or two from now. Image Engine took the concept artwork created by Blomkamp and WETA and rendered it in three dimensions, refining the mechanics so the animated Chappie would move realistically for a six-foot-tall, gun-toting robot. As the movie progresses, Chappie begins to take damage from bullets, flames, and thrown debris; if that wasn't enough, he also ends up covered in graffiti. That sort of wear-and-tear complicated things for the effects team; WETA had to produce three physical Chappie "skeletons" and a multitude of body panels representing the increasing levels of damage, and Image Engine needed to make sure every inch of the digital Chappie was rendered accurately to match. The movie itself might be scoring mediocre reviews, but at least the robot looks good.
Sci-Fi

Harrison Ford's Plane Crashes On Golf Course 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the kessel-run-practice dept.
First time accepted submitter dark.nebulae writes Harrison Ford's PT-22 crash landed on a golf course in Los Angeles. From the article: "Actor Harrison Ford was hospitalized Thursday afternoon after a single-engine plane he was piloting crashed onto a Venice golf course shortly after takeoff. Just before 4:30 p.m. a family member confirmed to NBC4 that the actor is 'fine' and suffered a few gashes. Aerial footage of the minutes after the crash showed the small single-engine vintage World War II trainer plane crashed on the ground at Penmar Golf Club, and one person being treated by paramedics and being transported to a hospital. Firefighters described his injuries were described as 'moderate.'"
Canada

Star Trek Fans Told To Stop "Spocking" Canadian $5 Bill 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the draw-it-on-and-prosper dept.
bellwould writes The Toronto Sun is reporting that Bank of Canada executives are urging Star Trek fans to stop altering Wilfred Laurier's face on the Canadian $5 bill to look like Spock. Although not illegal to draw on the bills, a Bank of Canada spokesperson points out that the markings may reduce effectiveness of the security features or worse, the money may not be accepted.
Sci-Fi

'The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress' Coming To the Big Screen 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-first-get-a-permit dept.
HughPickens.com writes: According to the Hollywood Reporter, Twentieth Century Fox recently picked up the movie rights to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, based on the classic sci-fi book by Robert A. Heinlein. It will retitled as Uprising. Heinlein's 1966 sci-fi novel centers on a lunar colony's revolt against rule from Earth, and the book popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL (There ain't no such thing as a free lunch), a central, libertarian theme. The novel was nominated for the 1966 Nebula award (honoring the best sci-fi and fantasy work in the U.S.) and won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel in 1967. An adaptation has been attempted twice before — by DreamWorks, which had a script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, and by Phoenix Pictures, with Harry Potter producer David Heyman attached — but both languished and the rights reverted to Heinlein's estate. Brian Singer, who previously directed X-Men: Days of Future Past, will adapt the screenplay and reportedly direct. Several of Heinlein's works have been adapted for the big and small screen, including the 1953 film Project Moonbase, the 1994 TV miniseries Red Planet, the 1994 film The Puppet Masters, the 2014 film Predestination, and — very loosely — the 1997 film Starship Troopers.
Movies

Spock and the Legacy of Star Trek 233

Posted by samzenpus
from the memories-of-the-many dept.
StartsWithABang writes While the nerd/geek world mourns the death of Leonard Nimoy in its own way, it's important to remember the legacy that Star Trek — and that Spock and alien characters like him — left on our world. Unlike any other series, Star Trek used a futuristic, nearly utopian world to explore our own moral battles and failings, and yet somehow always managed to weave in an optimism about humanity and our future. This is something, the author argues, that is sorely missing from the new J.J. Abrams movies.
Sci-Fi

Harrison Ford To Return In Blade Runner Sequel 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the geriaction-heroes dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that Harrison Ford is now confirmed to be returning as Rick Deckard in the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott is now officially an executive producer for the film as well, and Denis Villeneuve will direct. It's set to begin production in the summer of 2016.
Sci-Fi

Ask Slashdot: How Could We Actually Detect an Alien Invasion From Outer Space? 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-up-the-mothership dept.
First time accepted submitter defiant.challenged writes As I was watching another sci-fi blockbuster about aliens wanting to harvest the life stock population on earth for their energy since we are such a robust species, I was wondering how likely and easy/difficult it would be currently to actually detect an outer space invasion (fleet). I am a firm believer that if we would be invaded, we would not stand a chance and would probably not even hit a single ship when it comes to fighting them. The aliens in the movie had the capability to space-jump right into our solar system and even very close to earth. My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Continues Meets Kickstarter Goal, Aims For Stretch Goals 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the boldly-going-as-far-as-the-budget-takes-them dept.
jdavidb writes: A couple of months ago on Slashdot, I learned about Star Trek Continues, a faithful continuation of the Star Trek original series five-year mission, lovingly recreated by Vic Mignogna and a dedicated cast and crew. The original Enterprise set from Desilu has been recreated, great scripts have been written, fantastic guest stars have been enlisted, including stars from the original series and other Star Trek voyages, and the three episodes filmed so far look like they genuinely came from the era that produced the original series. Continues has now turned my children on to original series Star Trek, and we eagerly await more episodes.

Continues has two more days to go in their Kickstarter campaign. They have already raised enough money to produce two more episodes and meet their first stretch goal: creating a set for Engineering. They're also bumping up against their next stretch goal: creating a planet set so the Continues Enterprise team can visit strange new worlds and experience the tragic loss of nameless redshirts.
Books

The Man Who Invented the Science Fiction Paperback 99

Posted by timothy
from the debt-of-gratitude dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Clay Latimer writes at IBD that Ian Ballantine, called by many the father of the mass-market paperback, helped change American reading habits in the 1940s and '50s founding no fewer than three prestigious paperback houses — Penguin USA, Bantam Books and Ballantine Books. But Ballantine's greatest influence on mass culture was publishing science-fiction paperback originals, with writers including Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, and Frederik Pohl and publishing the first authorized paperback editions of J.R.R. Tolkien's books. "These were great classics of world fiction," says Loren Glass. "He published in original form some of the greatest works in the golden age of science fiction. One of the interesting things about Ballantine is that he was not only a businessman trying to make money in books; he was a student of literature and publishing, and something of an intellectual."

Turning serious science fiction into a literary genre ranks among Ballantine's greatest feats. Prior to Ballantine Books, science fiction barely existed in novel form. He changed that with the 1953 publication of "Fahrenheit 451," the firm's 41st book. "That was obviously a key moment in the history of science-fiction publishing," Glass says. In 1965, when Tolkien's rights to his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy lapsed, Ace Books published his books without paying royalties and Tolkien responded by conducting a personal campaign against Ace. Tolkien began to urge the fans who wrote to him to inform them that the American copies were pirated: "I am now inserting in every note of acknowledgement to readers in the U.S.A. a brief note informing them that Ace Books is a pirate, and asking them to inform others." Ballantine quickly bought the rights and included Tolkien's back-cover note: "Those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors will purchase it and no other.""
Books

R.U. Sirius Co-Authors New Book On Transhumanism 76

Posted by timothy
from the r-u-goffman-doesn't-have-the-same-ring dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've never been able to work up a fear of the robot apocalypse," admits R.U. Sirius, who more than 20 years after Mondo 2000's original guide to geek culture has again collaborated on a new encyclopedia of emerging technologies. As we progress to a world where technology actually becomes invisible, he argues that "everything about how we will define the future is still in play," suggesting that the transhumanist movement is "a good way to take isolated radical tech developments and bundle them together". While his co-author argues transhumanists "like to solve everything," Sirius points out a much bigger concern is a future of technologies dominated by the government or big capital.
Businesses

Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film 138

Posted by timothy
from the scotty-gets-the-girl-and-saves-the-universe dept.
According to a report at The Verge, itself based on another at Deadline.com, Shaun of the Dead creator Simon Pegg is to co-write (along with Doug Jung) the next Star Trek film. Pegg is also signed on to play Scotty, as he did in both the Star Trek reboot and Into Darkness.
PC Games (Games)

Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the klingons-off-the-starboard-bow dept.
jones_supa writes: The next game from the mind of veteran strategy and simulation game designer Sid Meier has been revealed. 2K and Firaxis Games have announced Sid Meier's Starships, a turn-based interstellar strategy game scheduled to arrive in early 2015 for Windows, OS X, and iOS (iPad). In the game, you control a fleet of starships as you journey through the galaxy to complete missions, protect planets and their inhabitants, and build a planetary federation. As you trek through the stars, you will be challenged to expand your federation's influence and reach. You shall also amass futuristic technology and take part in combat using a deep roster of customizable ships. When designing Starships, Meier was intrigued by the idea of exploring the next chapter in the story of Civilization: Beyond Earth. "What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth," Meier asks. "My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration."
The Almighty Buck

Star Trek Continues Kickstarter 2.0 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-boldly-make-some-more-episodes dept.
The Real Dr John writes Vic Mignogna and crew have launched their second Kickstarter campaign to produce 2 or more additional episodes of Star Trek Continues, a fan-based web series finishing up the 5 year mission of the original Star Trek television series. The first Kickstarter campaign raised enough money for 4 episodes, 3 of which have already been aired. Depending on how much funding they get this time, they plan to produce up to 4 additional episodes.