beaverdownunder writes "To commemorate 50 years of the Tardis, today the BBC is airing a 75 minute special finally revealing the secrets of the Time War. What did you think of the special? And what's your fondest memory of Who? And what about that Capaldi guy?" Okian Warrior pointed out today's Google doodle too.
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Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Calum Marsh writes in The Atlantic that when Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers hit theaters 16 years ago today, American critics slammed it as a 'crazed, lurid spectacle' featuring 'raunchiness tailor-made for teen-age boys' and 'a nonstop splatterfest so devoid of taste and logic that it makes even the most brainless summer blockbuster look intelligent.' But now the reputation of the movie based on Robert Heinlein's Hugo award winning novel is beginning to improve as critics begin to recognize the film as a critique of the military-industrial complex, the jingoism of American foreign policy, and a culture that privileges reactionary violence over sensitivity and reason. 'Starship Troopers is satire, a ruthlessly funny and keenly self-aware sendup of right-wing militarism,' writes Marsh. 'The fact that it was and continues to be taken at face value speaks to the very vapidity the movie skewers.' The movie has rightfully come to be appreciated by some as an unsung masterpiece. Coming in at number 20 on Slant Magazine's list of the 100 best films of the 1990s last year, the site's Phil Coldiron described it as 'one of the greatest of all anti-imperialist films,' a parody of Hollywood form whose superficial 'badness' is central to its critique. 'That concept is stiob, which I'll crudely define as a form of parody requiring such a degree of over-identification with the subject being parodied that it becomes impossible to tell where the love for that subject ends and the parody begins,' writes Coldiron. 'If you're prepared for the rigor and intensity of Verhoeven's approach—you'll get the joke Starship Troopers is telling,' says Marsh. 'And you'll laugh.'"
v3rgEz writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry at Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover. They ominously concluded that "Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . ." The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia. MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."
Ender's Game is the quintessential classic military sci-fi book. It ranks near the top of virtually every list of good sci-fi novels. When Hollywood decided to finally go forward with a movie adaptation, the initial reaction from most fans was one of skepticism. (After all, we saw what they did to I, Robot.) But there was reason to hope, as well, because Ender's Game is more action-friendly than many sci-fi stories, and the filmmakers had a big budget with which to make it. The movie was finally released last week; read on for our review. In short: the film tries too hard to straddle the line between assuming viewers are familiar with the details and bringing new viewers up to speed. The cuts to the story were both too much and not enough. It left us with only brief glimpses at too many characters, and introduced themes without fleshing them out enough to be interesting.
Esther Schindler writes "We all know that the arts reflect the technology of their times. So let's look at The Doctor ('the definite article,' as Tom Baker said in December 1974) and his use of computers. Actually, for a show so closely associated with the Slashdot-techie lifestyle, Doctor Who didn't have much to do with computers early on. This article by Peter Salus traces the formative years: 'In January 1970, Jon Pertwee (Doctor #3) acquired a Cambridge scientist (Caroline John as Liz Shaw) as his companion, which might lead the unsuspecting viewer to think that a firmer computer science basis might ensue. But only in April did Liz exhibit her technical knowledge (by recognizing a Geiger counter reading).' And then we get to K-9....."
Okian Warrior writes "Hackaday brings us news about a continuation of the original Star Trek series. The Kickstarter-funded project is attempting to complete the original 5-year mission, which ended after only three seasons on the air. The fan-based and fan-supported reincarnation is cleverly titled Star Trek Continues and has CBS's consent. Check out the first episode, Pilgrim of Eternity. For being fan-made, it's actually pretty good." The attention to detail in the sets, costumes, and even lighting is incredible. It's far and away the most faithful re-creation of the original series I've ever seen.
dryriver writes in with a story lamenting the lack of accurate science in movies. "The relationship between science and science fiction has always been tempestuous. Gravity focuses on two astronauts stranded in space after the destruction of their space shuttle. Since Gravity's US release (it comes to the UK in November) many critics have praised the film for its scientific accuracy. But noted astrophysicist Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, had several issues with the accuracy of Gravity's portrayal of space. Through a series of posts on Twitter, Tyson — who later emphasized that he 'enjoyed the film very much' — highlighted various errors. He noted the Hubble space telescope (orbiting at 350 miles above sea level), the International Space Station (at 250 miles), and a Chinese space station could never be in line of sight of one another. On top of that, most satellites orbit west to east, yet in the film the satellite debris was seen drifting east to west. Tyson also noted how Sandra Bullock's hair did not float freely as it would in zero-gravity. This is arguably not so much an error in physics, but a reflection of the limitations of cinematic technology to accurately portray actors in zero-gravity. That is, of course, without sending them into space for the duration of the film. The Michael Bay film Armageddon is known for its woeful number of inaccuracies, from the space shuttles separating their rocket boosters and fuel tanks in close proximity to each other (risking a collision) and to objects falling on to the asteroid under a gravitational pull seemingly as strong as the Earth's. More than one interested observer tried to work out how big the bomb would have to be to blow up an asteroid in the way demanded in the movie. Answer: Very big indeed. Nasa is reported to have even used Armageddon as part of a test within their training program, asking candidates to identify all the scientific impossibilities within the film."
BigBadBus writes "Putting an end to months of speculation, the BBC announced at a press conference today that it had recovered 9 previously lost episodes of Dr.Who, from the Patrick Troughton era (1966-69). The episodes complete 'The Enemy of the World' and almost complete 'The Web of Fear' (leaving one episode outstanding). The episodes were found in a relay station in Nigeria by Phillip Morris; previously Nigeria had been checked and had returned 6 lost episodes in 1984. The episodes are now available from UK and US iTune stores and can be for pre-ordered from Amazon.co.uk"
MajikJon writes "The BBC junking policies of the '60s and '70s resulted in the loss of hundreds of episodes of the classic series in its earliest years. Through the work of ardent fans over the succeeding decades, dozens of these lost episodes have been painstaking recovered and added back into the BBC archives. Now, it seems, the searchers have struck the mother lode. According to the Wikipedia, there are currently 106 missing episodes of the serial. If reports are correct, we may finally get to see all the episodes."
First time accepted submitter wmr89502270 writes "Doctor Who is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The special The Day of The Doctor will be broadcast simultaneously in over 75 countries and hundreds of cinemas in the UK. Across the world the hotly anticipated special episode will be screened simultaneously in full 3D. According to Copyright law of the United Kingdom, the copyright in a broadcast program expires 50 years from the end of the year in which it is broadcast, which means the first episodes will fall to public domain next year."
Bruce66423 writes "As the NSA scandal moves from appalling to laughable, the latest report in the Guardian indicates that the current NSA chief spent US taxpayers' money to create a command center for his intelligence operations that was styled just like Star Trek. From the PBS News Hour report: 'When he was running the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, Alexander brought many of his future allies down to Fort Belvoir for a tour of his base of operations, a facility known as the Information Dominance Center. It had been designed by a Hollywood set designer to mimic the bridge of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a 'whoosh' sound when they slid open and closed. Lawmakers and other important officials took turns sitting in a leather 'captain's chair' in the center of the room and watched as Alexander, a lover of science-fiction movies, showed off his data tools on the big screen. "Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard," says a retired officer in charge of VIP visit '"
Have you ever wondered how much energy is needed to power a phaser set to kill? A trio of researchers at the University of Leicester did, so they ran some tests and found out it would take roughly 2.99 GJ to vaporize an average-sized adult human body. Quoting: "First, consider the true vaporization – the complete separation of all atoms within a molecule – of water. With a simple molecular structure containing an oxygen atom bonded to two hydrogen atoms, it takes serious energy to break these bonds. In fact, it takes 460 kilojoules of energy to break just one mole of oxygen-hydrogen bonds — around the same energy that a 2,000-pound car going 70 miles per hour on the highway has in potential. And that's just 18 grams of water! So as you can see, it would take a gargantuan amount of energy to separate all the atoms in even a small glass of water — especially if that glass of water is your analog for a person. The human body is a bit more complicated than a glass of water, but it still vaporizes like one. And thanks to our spies spread across scientific organizations, we now have the energy required to turn a human into an atomic soup, to break all the atomic bonds in a body. According to the captured study, it takes around three gigajoules of death-ray to entirely vaporize a person — enough to completely melt 5,000 pounds of steel or simulate a lightning bolt."
damnbunni writes "Frederik Pohl, one of the last Golden Age science fiction authors, passed away on September 2nd of respiratory distress, as reported on his blog. Pohl is perhaps best known for his Heechee Saga novels, beginning with Gateway in 1977, but his work in pulp magazines in the '30s and '40s helped give rise to science fiction fandom."
The Hugo awards were presented last night, providing recognition to the best science fiction of the past year. The award for Best Novel was presented to John Scalzi for Redshirts, a comedic work playing on the trope of low-ranking officers frequently getting themselves killed in sci-fi works. Best Novella went to Brandon Sanderson for The Emperor's Soul, and Best Novelette went to The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan. Best Graphic Story was awarded to the creators of Saga. Best Dramatic Presentation (long form) was given for Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, and (short form) was presented for the "Blackwater" episode of the Game of Thrones TV show. The Best New Writer was Mur Lafferty. Here's a full list of the nominees and winners.
An anonymous reader writes "Star Trek veterans such as Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov), Tim Russ (Tuvok), Robert Picardo (the Doctor) and others are busy in pre-production of a professionally produced pilot episode for a suggested new online Star Trek series named Star Trek: Renegades, which will be faithful to the original Star Trek canon. The events of the series are placed a decade after Voyager's return from Delta Quadrant. When the pilot is complete, they'll present it to CBS in the hopes that it'll be picked up. They have also opened an Indiegogo campaign, seeking more funds from Star Trek fans to help make the production even more professional. They've already reached their primary funding goal."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Adi Robertson reports in The Verge that classic science fiction magazine Omni, created in 1978 by Penthouse mogul Bob Guccione and partner Kathy Keeton, is coming back — and with it, questions about how our vision of science and science fiction has changed since Omni closed up shop in 1996. 'There's a heavy dose of nostalgia in the proceedings, and it's not just about bringing back an old name,' writes Robertson. 'Longtime editor Ben Bova has described Omni as "a magazine about the future," but since his time as editor, our vision of the future has been tarnished — or, at the very least, we've started looking at the predictions of the past with rose-tinted glasses.' Omni's resurrection comes courtesy of Jeremy Frommer, a collector and businessman who acquired Guccione's archives earlier this year. Like the original magazine, now available at the internet archive, the new Omni will publish a mixture of new fiction and nonfiction publishing the old illustrations that helped define Omni alongside the stories. Longtime science writer Claire Evans will edit the new online project described as an 'Omni reboot' but plans to jettison one of the magazine's most dated elements — a fondness for extraterrestrials and conspiracy theories. 'Omni always had a distressing new agey tinge to it,' says Bruce Sterling. 'There was a lot of "aircraft of the pharaohs'"rubbish going on, which I didn't have very much tolerance for.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jennifer Finney Boylan writes in the NYT that for those who did not get beaten up in high school, 'Doctor Who' is a beloved British sci-fi series about a character called the Doctor who is able to regenerate into a new body whenever a mortal would die or whenever an actor grows tired of the gig. The Doctor has been played by 11 different men since the show went on the air in 1963 and with Matt Smith, stepping down this Christmas, many fans had hoped that this time, a dozen cycles in, the Doctorship would finally go to a woman. 'Maybe it was the election of Barack Obama that made it seem, fleetingly, as if there were no more glass ceilings, for offices from president to pontiff,' writes Boylan. 'Whether the 45th president is a woman (Hillary Rodham Clinton?) or a Latino (Marco Rubio?), it still feels, on a good day, as if we've entered a time when there are fewer limits on what men and women can aspire to.' But unlike presidents or popes, we may not get that many more chances at a glass-shattering Doctor. According to long-held Doctor Who mythology, the character's 13th regeneration could be his last. 'As the producers think about whom they want to take on the role next, they should keep in mind the way people's hopes are lifted when they see someone breaking the glass ceiling, even when it's for something as seemingly trivial as a hero on a science-fiction program. Equal opportunity matters — in Doctor Who's universe as well as our own.'"
Dave Knott writes "After months of speculation since Matt Smith announced that he was exiting the long-running British SF show Doctor Who, the BBC has announced the latest actor who will be taking on the titular role. In a live television announcement, with several previous stars on hand, it was revealed that Peter Capaldi will be portraying the newest incarnation of The Doctor. Capaldi is 55 years old, ending a recent trend towards younger Doctors, and had been flagged by bookmakers as the odd-on favourite in recent days, to the extent that they had suspended betting on the issue. He is best known for his role as the foul-mouthed government bureaucrat Malcolm Tucker on the The Thick Of It and has in fact showed up on Doctor Who previously as a guest star. But now Capaldi is set to take his place in the iconic lead role. To help celebrate the 50th anniversary, and the naming of the next Dr. Who, an ice cream shop put up a 35ft straw Dalek sculpture."
New submitter b06r011 writes "The 12th actor to play Doctor Who will be revealed on BBC1 this Sunday at 1900. Rupert Grint and Peter Capaldi have been tipped as favourites to replace Matt Smith but that is no reason to stop idle speculation on a Friday afternooon. This all raises an interesting point though — particularly for Dr Who, where the replacement of an actor whilst maintaining the character is a key part of the plot. Would you rather find out in advance or wait until the end of the regeneration sequence?"
An anonymous reader writes "Long time /. member maynard has written one of the most obsessively detailed and extensive analyses of Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey seen in some time. At more than 22,000 words, it contains still images, film clips, musical score selections and copious references, including by Piers Bizony, author of Filming the Future, Nietzsche, Foucault, Freud, and film theorists like Bazin, Kracauer and Zizek. It's already gained some notoriety, having been retweeted by Nicholas Jackson, former editor of the Atlantic Monthly and Slate. Anyone who loves the film or SF in general should find this an amazing read!" I don't know whether it can topple my all-time favorite analysis of 2001, Leonard F. Wheat's Kubrick's 2001: A Triple Allegory .