Sci-(Non)Fi: Tickets to Space

September 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

A collection of Virgin Galactic’s first batch of space tourists gathered in the Mojave Desert last week.  The astronauts formed an eclectic group, from an 11-year-old Pakistani girl to a 59-year-old grandfather from Maryland.  For most people, $250,000 to let Richard Branson launch you into space for a fifteen minute ride seems unreasonable, and it probably is;  but that won’t  stop me from buying a ticket as soon as I scrape enough change from underneath the couch pillows.

Why would I be so interested in going to space?  Because Warren Ellis told me so, of course.  Back in 2010, he ranted a bit harshly in Wired against the funding cuts to NASA’s manned space flight program:

Exploration has always been central to the human drive. Not because of population pressure, nor trade necessity, but because it’s in our essential nature to wonder what and where is next. We are unique in the biosphere as creatures of imagination. Robot missions do not thrill us because the empathetic engagement is on a level with watching a Roomba do a decent job of hoovering some carpet fluff. It is nowhere near the same as seeing and hearing one of us walking somewhere brand new and telling us about it in the knowledge (however misguided that might eventually prove) that more of us, the rest of us, will follow.

He does say a few disparaging words about “quickie space tourism,” but that’s only because he wants a manned mission to Mars yesterday.  I do, too, but since I don’t want to commit myself to that (I’d rather commit someone else to it) I’ll settle for a shorter jaunt out of the atmosphere.

Sci-(Non)Fi: It’s a Rocket-Powered Shark!

September 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Why didn’t anybody tell me that owning a jet-powered shark was a thing?

Sort of biomimetic, the Seabreacher X is a jet-powered shark that you can drive around.

Remind Santa that you’ve been good this year.  The Seabreacher also comes in dolphin or killer whale.

Thor: The Dark World – New Trailer

September 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Okay, so it’s not brand new.  It’s actually a week old, but for most of society, that still counts as new.  For those of you who’ve already seen it, it’ll help tide you over until Marvel’s Agents of Shield premieres tonight.

(Natalie Portman’s character actually looks important in this one.)

Alan Moore on Hulu

September 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hulu has the Disinfo documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore!  Here he is contrasting cinema and comics:

This film is by no means new, but I’m on an Alan Moore kick, mostly because I picked up Vertigo’s new trade paperback release of League of Extraordinary Gentlmen Omnibus.  Every reader of comic books goes through at least one Alan Moore kick.

Click here to watch the entire film!

The Headless Horseman Rides Again!

September 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

So you know how if you live in or near Philadelphia, you have to watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?  (Well, you do.)   If you live in Westchester (or Rockland or Duchess) County, New York, you have to watch Sleepy Hollow!

The pilot was pretty good, but for people from the area of the real Sleepy Hollow, which is absolutely not spooky in any way, it’s the local sites dressed up to look scary that’s fun to see – like the Tappan Zee Bridge!  Now, it’s not just a toll hike you have to be scared of!  BWAA-HA-HA!  (That’s my spooky laugh.)

Sci-(Non)Fi: Life on Earth IS From Outer Space

September 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Comet Halley
Comet Halley. Credit: ESA/Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research

Sort of.

(I discovered this on theconversation.com.) There’s a theory that’s been floating around since the early 1960’s that comet impacts on Earth could produce enough energy to create amino acids, one of the major building blocks for life as we know it.  The process is called “shock synthesis,” and famous astrologer Carl Sagan tinkered with the idea.  More recently, Mark Price and some other folks at the University of Kent created a different experiment that produced the same result:

“… we shocked ice mixtures analogous to those found in a comet with a steel projectile fired at high velocities in a light gas gun to test whether amino acids could be produced. We found that the hypervelocity impact shock of a typical comet ice mixture produced several amino acids after hydrolysis. These include equal amounts ofD- and L-alanine, and the non-protein amino acids α-aminoisobutyric acid and isovaline as well as their precursors. Our findings suggest a pathway for the synthetic production of the components of proteins within our Solar System, and thus a potential pathway towards life through icy impacts.”

In other words, shooting blocks of ice has proved that life came from outer space, yo.

What I’m Reading: Revival, vol. 2: Live Like You Mean It

September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

A tale of the dead rising, Revival, vol. 2 by Tim Seely and Mike Norton sees a lot of the stories from the first trade paperback developing nicely, while some of the most central mysteries sort of string you along.

Set in a small rural area, the different storylines would all have touched protagonist Officer Dana Cypress even if she wasn’t the in charge of cases involving “revivers,” people who’ve come back from the dead.  What’s inventive about the series is its scale: with an “outbreak” more limited in size than most zombie scenarios, characters need to deal with things like the undead re-filing with the IRS and, a big plotline of this volume, the smuggling of reviver organs.

The storyline that develops the least in this volume, that has the most impact on the characters, is the murder of “Em” Cypress.  Dana’s sister, Em is now revived, but she remembers nothing about her killer.  There are some promising hints that Em’s murder is tied to the central question of “how did the dead rise?” but it’s frustrating that the story doesn’t develop more.  There are no new clues and no new suspects for Em’s murder.

Strong characters and attractive art make up for the big tease, and though I wouldn’t have the patience to follow such a slow reveal in a monthly series, Revival is definitely worth enjoying in trade paperback.

Chick Shoots Pencil Eraser

September 16, 2013 § 2 Comments

For those of you who don’t know about firearms, this is a REALLY difficult shot.  Especially from a standing position.  With an aperture sight.

Boom.  People who get their firearms education from primetime TV think that shooting is easy.  Kirsten Joy Weiss makes it look like it is.

This video is reblogged from TTAG.

MetaMorphosis #2

September 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

MetaMorphosis #2 came out this week!

I didn’t know that it was coming out this week, or I probably would’ve made more of an effort to promote it.  I guess ComiXology no longer tells Submit creators that their books are coming out, but, hey, they’ve got a lot of titles to keep track of.

I just handed in the latest draft of the screenplay adaptation, and my hands are sore from typing.  No more words!  Look at my pictures!  Tell you friends!

New Captain Harlock!

September 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Maybe you don’t remember the space pirate with a super-high collar, a facial scar, and big hair, but Captain Harlock spent the second half of the 20th Century gallivanting through Leiji Matsumoto’s anime universe.  What was so inventive about that universe was how, whatever the series,  from Arcadia of My Youth through Galaxy Express, Captain Harlock’s celebrity  helped define the setting.

And now, it looks like he’s back in the 21st Century in this computer animated feature!  Here’s some promo footage below.  Imdb reports that the feature, titles, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, came out in Japan on September 7th.  There’s no info on a US release.

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