Science Fiction Brewed Fresh Daily

Random Link #3

Due to unavoidable out-of-townedness, there will be no new posts until next Tuesday. Instead, please to enjoy a selection of random links.

Universal Translator Assistant

Posted in Ephemera March 17th, 2011 by Chip
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Random Link #2

Due to unavoidable out-of-townedness, there will be no new posts until next Tuesday. Instead, please to enjoy a selection of random links.

Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

Posted in Ephemera March 16th, 2011 by Chip
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Random Link #1

Due to unavoidable out-of-townedness, there will be no new posts until next Tuesday. Instead, please to enjoy a selection of random links.

Secret Worlds: The Universe Within

Posted in Ephemera March 15th, 2011 by Chip
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Wil Wheaton is a Golden God

And here is why.

Posted in Humor March 14th, 2011 by Chip
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Pity the Poor Stormtroopers

I’ve never heard of the band Scattered Trees, but they apparently have a sense of humor.

(via Topless Robot)

Posted in Ephemera March 11th, 2011 by Chip
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Trivia Thursday

  1. Who wrote Forbidden Planet?
  2. On The X-Files, what was Scully’s father nickname for her?
    A) Princess
    B) Starbuck
    C) Angel
    D) Pumpkin
    E) Spooky
  3. Who were the Sardaukar?
  4. Harry Stubbs wrote SF under the name Hal Clement. Under what name did he paint astronomy-themed artwork?
  5. In the Peter Hamilton series known as “The Night’s Dawn Trilogy,” a rift has opened and the dead are escaping into our realm. Name any of the books in the trilogy.
  6. What George R.R. Martin book features a cat- and mushroom-loving character?
    A) Hard Times
    B) Catseye
    C) The Long Trip
    D) Catspaw
    E) Tuf Voyaging
  7. In one of the earliest novels to treat vampirism as an infectious disease, this author’s Children of the Night follows an outbreak of Vampire that begins in Romania.
  8. In this Vernor Vinge novel, the Milky Way is divided into four concentric zones, the Unthinking Depths, the Slow Zone, the Beyond and the Transcend. Name it!
  9. In one of the best stories ever written on the theme of the South having won the Civil War, Ward Moore’s fine historical sense led him to describe some perhaps unexpected consequences; in a less affluent North the presidency is won three times by William Jennings Bryan, and in a backlash against the prewar antislavery movement the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, becomes a terrorist outfit like the Klan. Name the novel.
  10. Who was NOT a member of Buckaroo Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers?
    A) Reno Nevada
    B) Perfect Tommy
    C) Rawhide
    D) Pinky Carruthers
    E) Long Tom

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Ephemera March 10th, 2011 by Chip
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Old Spice/Sagan Mashup

Although the Old Spice ads apparently didn’t sell as much aftershave as hoped, they’ve certainly entered the popular culture. This is sort of awesome.

Old Sagan

(via Friendly Atheist)

Posted in Ephemera March 9th, 2011 by Chip
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New Cell Phone Will Stare Into Your Soul

ElfoidLast year roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University unveiled the Telenoid, a toddler-sized robot designed to “transmit the presence” of a person remotely. The idea is to have webcams track a user’s face and head movements and then have the robot mimic those movements, which is supposed to increase the “humanness” of the interaction despite the fact that the thing falls smack into the Uncanny Valley.

Ishiguro and his colleagues have now shrunk the Telenoid into the Elfoid, a prototype cell phone that allows callers to “feel each other’s presence.” So you call somebody, and their Elfoid wriggles to life in their shirt pocket, and after they’re finished pissing themselves they can totally bask in your telepresence.

Please join me in being utterly unsurprised that this thing is Japanese.

Anyway, the designers feel that a more humanoid design (which will ultimately be able to exhibit facial expressions and make gestures) will overcome some of the limitations of voice-only communication. It’s an interesting idea, and I can already foresee all sorts of interesting customizations being possible. I can also foresee these things being a major plot point in at least one horror movie in the next five years. Yeesh.

(Cross-posted at The Art of Darkness)

Posted in News March 8th, 2011 by Chip
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826 Stores

Mortal TerrorI first encountered the 826 stores a couple of years ago in the form of some photos of The Echo Park Time Travel Mart. The link was presented without any sort of background, so I was left scratching my head as to whether it was some kind of temporary art installation, an actual store, or perhaps an elaborate work of private whimsy.

I recently ran across some photos of products from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, and with a combined sense of déjà vu and WTF decided to investigate further.

The names of the stores come from the address of their first location, the Pirate Supply Store at 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Proceeds are used to fund the 826 National writing program, which tutors kids ages 6-18 in expository and creative writing. The stores are works of creative genius all by themselves, consisting of (in addition to the Time Travel Mart and the Pirate Supply Store), the The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, The Boring Store, the Bigfoot Research Institute of Greater Boston, and The Museum of Unnatural History.

Inspired by the 826 program, a group in the UK created (with the founders’ blessing) the Ministry of Stories. They are responsible for the Hoxton Street shop, and perhaps we’ll see additional locations in the future.

If I have one quibble, it’s that the various stores don’t have extensive online catalogues. The relatively new Museum of Unnatural History happens to be near me (and I’m already planning an excursion there), but I may never get to sample Golden Horde brand powdered horse milk or pick up a couple of cans of A Vague Sense of Unease.

Fortunately, there’s also a book about the stores: Essentially Odd features photos of products from the various stores, plus anecdotes and design notes from the artists and designers responsible.

If you’re looking for some fantastic creative inspiration, the 826 product lines are an incredible resource.

(Cross-posted at The Art of Darkness)

Posted in News March 7th, 2011 by Chip
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The Best Song About Immunization You’ll Hear All Day

Word.

(via Skepchick)

Posted in Science March 4th, 2011 by Chip
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