Archives for posts with tag: science fiction

This is the most exciting scientific article I’ve seen in some time. Actually, since the one a while back about the magical seeming machine similar to the Star Trek food synthesizer. This one has a Trek connection too. They’re likening it to the impulse drive. How awesome is that?

As a writer I’m always pondering the best way with what we know now to get humanity from Point A Right Here to Point Way Far B. Some ways would turn us into walking mummies (read all but dead or right on up to good and darned dead), others would involve an insomniac’s dream of a very, very long, long…er, long, sleep, while others involve a self-sustaining generational colony ship that would be like taking your entire town on a Sunday drive…practically forever. All intriguing, none exactly ideal.

Enter the electromagnetic propulsion drive. Invented a decade and a half ago, it was deemed impossible. Now, all of a sudden, ta da! It works. It can get to the moon in four hours! Take a moment to let that sink in. Rocket off to The Luna Cafe for lunch anyone?

Given our current predicament of being all dressed up, with every where to go, but only the slow boat to China equivalent of propulsion as a prospect for trying to get anywhere beyond the International Space Station, this is like a Model T driver being suddenly handed the keys to a Maserati. A working EM drive would open up space travel as we never quite dared hope for.

This prospect is exciting for all of us, scientists, dreamers, humanity in general. And science fiction writers. Imagine where an EM drive, combined with creative imagination, could take us. To the moon. To Mars. To the stars.

One of the first things I thought of is how important it could be for the salvation of humanity. Not that we as a whole need saving right now. That I know of. But we’re always trying to figure out how to survive an extinction level catastrophic event, like a direct asteroid hit. I’d sure rather take off in a well prepared escape fleet than hole up in a cave system in Arkansas! By lottery. (Why, yes, I do love Deep Impact!)

The thing most thrilling about the very idea to me is that for most of us it’s coming out of left field. An expressway to the stars, of sorts. An idea I’d never heard of or imagined, until I saw this article a little while ago. I can practically feel my brain expanding, as possibilities that seemed impossible yesterday set off a veritable fireworks factory of ideas and imaginings.

And, yes, plots.

Writing is going to get a lot more exciting. And just think of the new ways movies will play out. What a great time to be a writer. A screenwriter. A thinker. A citizen of Earth.

I watched Jupiter Ascending last night. What I’m left with now is more a mental montage of images, thoughts, ideas, and feelings than a coherent story to ponder. While I was watching I was aware of the plot and how it played out, but there was just so much going on onscreen that the finer points were buried.

That’s not to say I didn’t like it. I did. There was a lot to enjoy. The FX and cinematography were striking, the cast was solid, and the through line of the story compelling. I got it because Sean Bean is in it and was not disappointed in any way by his performance. Channing Tatum has really grown on me over the years. He’s a solid leading man now…and looks great with pointed ears! Mila Kunis was good, as well. She looked really beautiful in the elaborate wedding costume, though the pale purple dress was my favorite piece of clothing of the entire movie. Perhaps it was a little too Oscar ready for the setting, but it was really pretty. And I am partial to purple, you know.

There were some serious issues at the root of Jupiter Ascending. The idea of the earth being owned was disturbing. Even moreso that in the framework of this particular story it was a farm for the time stretching properties of juiced humans. One of my favorite things was the way that after her unexpected rise to royalty and ending up owning her homeworld, Jupiter went back to her old life, humbled and appreciative. That she also had a secret space age elf lord for a boyfriend and a pair of her own flying boots was the icing. Forget hoverboards in our time. I want those boots!

The thing about the fight, fight, fight imagery overload is that, for me at least, I start to get imaginary worlds battle fatigue. Don’t get me wrong. I love science fiction and action movies, ships, aliens, their cities, and landscapes. Always have. Always will. I just regret the way new movies often forget that just because you have awesome new technology that gets awesomer with every passing second you don’t have to cram every bit of it into one movie. George Lucas Syndrome. We all know what I’ms a talking about, don’t we, JarJar? I need more moments like the pristine snowfields of Hoth, marred only by the palpable heat and stench of a life saving eviscerated steed to rest my eyes and my mind from the frenetic, flaming image jammed background of the alien worlds where I live for the duration of a movie.

However, throw in Sean Bean, with hidden scars from the wings taken from his back, and that’s all the subtle, angst ridden mind and eye rest I need. Though I would have loved to see him fly briefly across a solitary sky.

Jupiter Ascending certainly provided a jam packed Entertainment O’rama. Not to mention a brief and subtle answer to where crop circles come from. I have a feeling that a second watch might provide more little did-I-really-see-that gems…if I can get my eyes to stay off the cool, shiny ships…and boots…for long enough to notice.

Jupiter Ascending Trailer #1 US

When the screenwriting competition results season comes around this year, I can’t bemoan having all my screenplay eggs in the Nicholl basket like last year. The ScreenCraft Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest recently came to my attention and I entered my feature length science fiction screenplay in it.

This one doesn’t have the huge cash prizes of some of major players, but the top prize is four figures, which is certainly not too shabby. Along with that comes a phone call with a top Hollywood literary manager. With my history of almosts, winning is not likely (this is my hard won survivor’s attitude), but the other prizes are nice too. Plus, the finalists are judged by an impressive featured judge.

My main thing this year is that I’m diversifying my chances of better results than last year. Somewhat. This is one of the scripts I already have entered in the 2015 Nicholl. It’s done well otherwhere, and sat out last year. And it’s been tightened (again) and polished (again), in hope that it’ll shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.

I could so easily segue into what a hard knock life it can be, or even rhapsodize about the possibilities cradled in the arms of our friend tomorrow. But it’s nearly three in the morning (which, coupled with insomnia is why goofiness attempts to hijack my brain), so I’ll just wrap this up with the one thing I am absolutely sure of.

I love writing screenplays. With a passion. Anything beyond that is icing. Once I get over the hard stuff that tends to come after Fade Out is typed. Living with my own movies in my head is its own prize beyond compare.

I decide to watch a particular movie for all sorts of reason. Usually it’s an actor, sometimes several cast members, or even a particular production company. I wanted to watch Elysium because of an image. The orbital habitat.

The cast was completely devoid of anyone that makes me leap front and center of the screen. I do really like Jodie Foster, but the previews made her character look so far against type that her presence wasn’t enough to draw me to it. The image on the box though, of the futuristic orbiter looming against a gritty backdrop of an unpleasant civilization did.

That image looked like the heaven and hell extremes science fiction can bring into play. Often it’s one or the other. Turns out Elysium put two extremes in close proximity to each other. When they collide there is where the story lies.

I don’t mean collide in the physical sense, though a scene where a small ship crashes inside the orbital habitat is pretty spectacular. Elysium collides two cultures. The haves and the have nots. The filthy rich and the simply filthy. The privileged and so far under privileged that they would be invisible…if only they knew how to stay in their place.

But there are those forced to live a hard scrabble life on a ruined Earth who are determined to attain the rarified air breathed by the citizens living a life of luxury on Elysium. All they have to do to see it is lift their eyes to the sky. All they have to do to go there is embark on a suicide trip that ends in death before their feet ever touch the pretty green grass in the sky or being deported back home so fast it’s practically before they arrive.

Matt Damon’s character Max dreamed as a child of living on Elysium. When a workplace dose of radiation poisoning proves to be a death sentence, he gets into ever more dangerous and complicated situations so that he can make it to the healing beds of Elysium for a cure.

A lot of complicated intrigue sets in to thwart him at every turn. It’s exciting and scary, not the least of which is Jodie Foster’s badass gatekeeper, who stops at nothing to keep the unwashed
unwanted away from her pristine playground. There is a lot of grit. A lot of violence. A lot of fear and pain.

Surprisingly, there is also a lot of humanity. A lot of heart. And a lot of love. Max feels deeply for his childhood friend Frey, and her terminally ill little girl. He cares a lot more than one would expect at the start for humanity in general. He is an ex con with a heroic heart. He makes sacrifices that will open the elusive Elysium to all.  He becomes an unwitting savior.

This movie doesn’t really seem very appealing for quite some time, but the juxtaposition of deep suffering and wanton excess slowly starts to pay off, as does the way it becomes difficult to be sure just who is a good guy and who is a villain. Elysium the way it is became less attractive, while Elysium the way it could be becomes the goal you root for.

All the violence and pain turn around into an unexpected feel good ending that makes the struggles worthwhile. By the end the vision for Elysium that Max fought for makes the intrigue I felt from seeing that image of the orbital habitat in the sky well worth watching a movie for.

Elysium Official Full Trailer

I finished watching Oblivion earlier tonight and can’t stop thinking about it. It reminds me of Prometheus, in that the FX are so real it feels as if you’re really there. Or could be.

That kind of movie is a different viewing experience than genre movies were even several years ago. It’s immersive in a whole experience kind of way different from technological tricks beyond the amazing FX. Things like how many dimensions and what kind of screen fall to the wayside in the face of great visuals and excellent storytelling.

I found the plot riveting. It kept me almost mesmerized, engaged, and most important of all as far as storytelling goes…interested. I can often stay a step or two ahead of movie plots, which can be frustrating and even irritating. No danger of that as Tom Cruise led me on an adventure that kept me following him.

It’s an excellent cast, though I’m unfamiliar with the female leads. I always like Morgan Freeman and Nokolaj Coster-Waldau, and that continued here.

This kind of story always makes me think too much. Oblivion’s version of alien invasion is just different enough to become a new thing that goes bump in the night…until the next one comes
along. The stuff of nightmares, but with a leading edge of hope.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s seeming that genre movies are in the process of taking a creative leap to their next level. If that means more and more
will arrive in theaters at the level of Oblivion, I can’t wait to see where the next leap takes audiences.

As someone who has been interested in science fiction and facts since wondering as a little kid how electricity got into the house and looking up into a sky full of stars wondering what kinds of worlds and people were among them, I’m surprised I never knew about the early robots described in this article . The accompanying slide show has images ranging from unintentionally amusing to a little scary to cool potential.

I mean, sure it would be cool to have a robot that could whistle… for a half hour. After a while, though, such a feat would lose the novelty factor and you’d be left with essentially a tea kettle…that can’t make tea. There is no doubt that there are a lot of people who would love a robot touted for its ability to shoot a gun. Maybe it could be trained…er,  programmed to go out to the woods and shoot dinner for the automatic housewife to prepare to most likely imperfection. The article did say the robotic shooter’s weapon of choice was a revolver, which would have come in handy back then to certain quarters of society.  Especially if it had a partner adept at making cement shoes.

I think waiting around through the decades for Harrison Ford to dream of electric sheep is still the best plan for those with both illusions and delusions of humanoid robotics. Much cooler, though I’m sure more world weary. Of course who knew back in the day of experimental robot making that in a galaxy long ago and far away a man with a Ranch would someday give the world a kind of artificial man that would become a beloved icon of the future, a golden paragon of linguistic prowess, friendship, loyalty, and Nervous Nelly nagging? Anything is possible, and that’s proven every day by the ones who dream in futuristic sleep.

I can’t watch the season finale of Falling Skies without at least mentioning how much I love that series. I look forward to it every week, after looking forward to season premiers starting at the end of each season finale.

I don’t know what makes some series successful, while others languish in the ratings until they fade away into obscurity. All I know is that Falling Skies hits the entertainment sweetspot in several ways.

The ensemble clicks, for one thing. Tom, Col. Dan, and Pope could not be more different types of men, yet for all their conflicts with each other and others they are a formidable team. Each a member of the unlikely family that takes care of their own and anyone else who falls afoul of the alien invasion.

The writing is there. All the time. Even if we don’t know why something happened at Point A, we will know by Point…Z, if that’s what the plotline needs. It takes diligence and a whole lot of talent to keep up with such high levels of everything from believability to continuity.

The production values are some of the finest on television, and I would say much better than a number of movies. In fact I’m often struck as I watch by how cinematic the Falling Skies viewing experience is. It’s certainly not every TV series that leaves me feeling I’m watching a serialized movie. If only more gave that much quality so consistently.

Beyond all that I think what I like most is that at heart Falling Skies is a story of the human spirit. In all its guises, in all its downfalls, and in all its glory. It’s about love and perseverance and hope, all wrapped up in Skitters and Mechs, backpacks and mind control, alien invasion and resistance to it. I can only hope that if it ever happens for real there will be a Tom Mason, a colonel, and, yes, even a Pope to lead the fight back into the light.

Falling Skies Season 3 Trailer TNT