Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

R.I.P. Majel Barrett Roddenberry

She passed away of leukemia at age 76.


Posted in Movies & TV, News December 18th, 2008 by Chip
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Periodic Table of the Awesoments


Aristole postulated that all good things were made of “win.” That was a pretty good guess, but he was drunk and probably also having an orgy. Modern day awesominers know there are actually 118 fundamental “awesoments” that compose all good things.

Dapperstache has put together the periodic table of these awesoments; a great boon to future researchers trying to determine how these fundamental particles interact with each other.

The comments are quite enlightening as well.

Does this table then suggest that ninja’s can be formed from the fission of two pieces of bacon? This could explain the lack of pigs in Japan.


Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in Humor, Science December 18th, 2008 by Chip
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The Day The Earth Stood Still Reviews

The Crotchety Old Fan, who’s been vocal about his opposition to a remake of the classic in much the same way that Muntadhar al-Zeidi was vocal about his opposition to President Bush, bit the bullet and watched the remake. I believe it’s safe say that he was not impressed.

The couple of examples above do not go nearly far enough to detail how abolutely terrible the script itself was. Forget comparisons to the original: on its own, the script is so fraught with unexplained moments, dialogue out of left field, unjustified leaps of faith and just plain bad writing that it would have gotten no more than a ‘D’ in my film writing class (and the guy who taught it was responsible for Grizzly…)

The script was awful.

Here’s the link to the full review.

He definitely isn’t alone in his scorn. The movie rates a 21% on the Tomatometer, and even the positive reviews say things like, “[It] is passable, [but] it is not great science fiction,” or comment that Keanu Reeves’ lack of facial expression makes him a believable alien. ScreenRant gives it 1.5 out of 5, where even the X-Files remake got a 3 out of 5.

Offhand I’d say it’d be better to stay home, rent the original on DVD, and save 20 bucks.

Posted in Movies & TV December 17th, 2008 by Chip
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Silent Star Wars

This is surprisingly faithful to the medium.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted in Humor December 16th, 2008 by Chip
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I See What You’re Thinking

Brain Scan

Researchers at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Japan have developed technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person’s mind and display them on a computer.

The scientists showed test subjects various images and used an MRI to map the changes in their cerebral blood flow. The images and resulting blood flow patterns were plugged into brain analysis software which associated the various changes in brain activity with the different image designs.

When the test subjects were shown a new set of images, the system could reconstruct and display what the test subjects were viewing based solely on their brain activity. (They say, almost apologetically, that right now they can only read images in black-and-white. They hope to be able to discern colors too.)

They foresee some interesting uses for the technology:

The researchers suggest a future version of this technology could be applied in the fields of art and design — particularly if it becomes possible to quickly and accurately access images existing inside an artist’s head. The technology might also lead to new treatments for conditions such as psychiatric disorders involving hallucinations, by providing doctors a direct window into the mind of the patient.


Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in News December 15th, 2008 by Chip
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Steampunk Roundup

Steampunk PCI’m a big fan of steampunk, due to a gothy fascination with Victorian culture and “retro-futurism.” I love the vibe of mass-produced mixed with one-off craftsmanship in the alternate-history technology that’s such a hallmark of the genre. If you’re a fan, here are some links you might enjoy.

The Steampunk Home – This blog is devoted to home décor that combines “the scientific romanticism of the Victorians with our real present and imagined future.”

Aether Emporium – This is a marvelous resource, which “aims to provide a onestop resource and archive for all things Steampunk.”

The Steampunk Workshop – Lots of resources here, including projects, links, and lots of photographs.

Steampunk Pics – A photoblog which features both images of actual steampunk items (such as “ray guns”) and real vintage photos with a steampunk feel (like Zeppelins floating over cities).

Antipodean Steampunk Adventures – “Follow the adventures of the maduncle as he endeavours to make contact with the rest of the steampunk universe from the outer colonies.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ephemera December 12th, 2008 by Chip
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More Remakes

Alternate post title: “WTF, Hollywood?”

The Website at the End of the Universe recently pointed to a list of remakes (and a couple of sequels) to classic SF movies that don’t actually need remaking, such as When Worlds Collide and Creature from the Black Lagoon. I could at least see why they were planning to savage reinterpret these films, since they were fairly mainstream.

It’s been recently announced, however, there’s a planned remake of They Live and a sequel for Repo Man, and we’re now squarely in “Huh?” territory. Unless your budget is $1.98, I’m having trouble seeing how you’d expect to make money on a remake of a movie that wasn’t very successful to begin with. (The Repo Man sequel, incidentally, has a female star and carries “a serious message about the mortgage foreclosure crisis.” I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

Now that cult favorites are being dug out from under rocks, I expect that The Toxic Avenger, Krull, and Cherry 2000 can’t be far behind. Sounds like it’s time to hole up in a bunker with a DVD player and a Netflix membership.

Posted in Movies & TV December 11th, 2008 by Chip
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“Mad Scientist” Blocks

Mad Scientist BlocksHere’s the perfect item for the young maniacal inventor on your gift list: Alphabet blocks lovingly engraved with a different mad scientific motif. Original pen-and-ink drawings are laser-engraved (natch) onto maple blocks, and they’re just gorgeous. The set of five includes all of the themes that any well-rounded mad scientist should explore:

A – Appendages | B – Bioengineering | C – Caffeine | D – Dirigible | E – Experiment | F – Freeze ray | G – Goggles | H – Henchmen | I – Invention | J – Jargon | K – Potassium | L – Laser | M – Maniacal | N – Nanotechnology | O – Organs | P – Peasants (with Pitchforks) | Q – Quantum physics | R – Robot | S – Self-experimentation | T – Tentacles | U – Underground Lair | V – Virus | W – Wrench | X – X-Ray | Y – You, the Mad Scientist of Tomorrow | Z – Zombies

It’s never too early to teach your children mad science proficiency, and once they’ve grown up and begun an illustrious career reanimating dead tissue and launching laser satellites these blocks would make a lovely desk accessory or source of evidence when the FBI shows up with questions.

Link (via BoingBoing)

(Also check out the “Mr. Bitey” personal organizer on the same site. I want one of these for my desk.)

(Cross-posted at The Art of Darkness)

Posted in Ephemera December 10th, 2008 by Chip
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What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

An opinion piece published online in Nature examines the illicit use of “brain-boosting” drugs like Adderall and Ritalin by college students, and concludes…that we should totally do more of that.

The seven authors–at least two of whom are consultants for pharmaceutical companies–argue that we “should welcome new methods of improving our brain function,” and say that doing it with pills is no more morally objectionable than eating right or getting a good night’s sleep. They sort of gloss over the fact that getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t come with a warning label (unlike Adderall, which carries warnings about the possibility of sudden death, heart attack, or stroke).

I think they kind of buried the lede, where the authors note that steps would have to be taken to ensure that the benefits of these drugs didn’t make socio-economic inequalities worse. There have already been a few reported cases of overly gung-ho parents dosing their healthy children with Ritalin in order to give them an edge in school; it’s not hard to envision a scenario where unmedicated kids wind up with a competetive disadvantage in school and employment.

Should we allow unfettered access to this type of brain-boosting drug? We already alter our brain function with drugs like caffeine; is this really all that different? If having unregulated brain chemistry becomes a great liability, wouldn’t parents be remiss if they didn’t help their kids compete? A lot of SF examines this kind of human bootstrapping; perhaps this is the first step to a real-life Uplift. Or maybe it’s just a really, really bad idea.

What do you think?

Posted in News, Science December 9th, 2008 by Chip

Comic Books to Movies

When Hollywood appropriates a genre, it really appropriates the holy living crap out of it.

With the success of Iron Man and the various X-Men movies, it’s not surprising that other comic books are being adapted for the screen. What is surprising–at least to me–is that a whopping 84 titles are scheduled for production.

Den of Geek is maintaining a frequently-updated list of comic books slated for adaptation. A few are sequels–another Batman flick, for instance, and two sequels to Sin City–but most are new. They’re even planning to drag poor ol’ Billy Batson onto the screen. Only…they’re going to make him dark, boogedy-boogedy. Now there’s an original idea.

This plethora of comic book specs may be because there are so darned many titles from which to choose, or may be because comics are often easier to successfully adapt than novels are. Should we be pleased that comic books are drawing Hollywood’s eye away from SF books, or dismayed that more “meaty” SF isn’t coming to the screen?

(via The Website at the End of the Universe)

Posted in Movies & TV December 8th, 2008 by Chip
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