Tag Archives: scifi

The Best Celebrity Slave Leias

I’ve noted a wonderful new trend these past few years: hot celebrity babes dressing up as Princess Leia in her metal bikini slave costume. Not a ton, and maybe I’m being liberal with the word “celebrity”1, but enough to get my attention. Here are my favorites. And by favorites, I mean all I could find. If you know of more, let me know and I’ll add them.

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  1. Not unlike every reality/competition show out there. []
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Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Canceled; Dollhouse Renewed

It’s official, Fox has terminated Sarah Connor. There were rumors that Terminator: Salvation would reinvigorate interest in the series, but the bastards say it costs too much. So no more Summer Glau, Lena Headey, Stephanie Jacobsen, or Leven Rambin. At least not in one place. Stephanie Jacobsen will be playing a call-girl/med school student on the new Melrose Place. For the rest, the future is unclear. As unclear as that annoying, cliffhanger ending (which was actually great until the show was canceled). At this point, I’d be thrilled by a 2 hour special tying up the loose ends and clearing up the confusion.

On the bright side, Dollhouse has been renewed, albeit at on a lower budget. It’s a decent show, but I can’t help thinking I liked Terminator better. Heck, I liked Firefly way better.

NASA Nodule: Serenity or Colbert?

Agent Assassin brings to our attention a recent NASA poll to name a nodule (what you ground dwellers would call a room) on the International Space Station. The existing nodules are named Unity and Harmony, and the 4 choices were Earthrise, Serenity, Legacy, and Venture. However, write-in votes were also accepted. When Xenu, the genocidal alien dictator from the world of Scientology (I am not making that up) became the number one write-in, Colbert joined the fray and his viewers made him the number one overall. Voting is closed and that’s where it stands today.

I like Colbert, he’s funny, but I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, he does publicize things you name after him (or things he wants named after him). I’d rather the nodule be named after Stephen Colbert than after any genocidal dictator, fictional or not (I would also be against naming it after Hitler, Stalin, or Darkseid). And it’s better than naming it after companies, a couple of which are also in the top 10.

The question I have is whether Serenity was an option because the other rooms are Unity and Harmony, or because NASA has fans of the series cult sci-fi series Firefly. The spaceship in Firefly is named Serenity and you may have seen the movie of the same name. It should be because of the show, but knowing NASA, both were factors.

My perspective comes from working in aerospace for 12 years, with two enjoyable years spent at a major NASA research center.1 I think that NASA has a responsibility to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists, and embracing the pop culture proclivities of future NASA geeks greatly aids this. From that perspective, NASA did this all wrong. Here’s what they should have done:

  • Chosen 4 names directly from sci-fi. Serenity is great, then pick 3 others.
  • Spread the word through blogs and fan clubs and the press.
  • Have Americans choose the name they like best.
  • After the votes are cast, have an essay contest related to space exploration. Spread the word through high schools.
  • The winners of the contest are invited to the launch, along with the cast and producers and the press.
  • Record the event and put the edited video footage on the NASA web site and YouTube.

You may not get as many votes, but you’ll get the right people voting.

  1. Where, in fact, The Crack Team was formed. []

The Day The Earth Stood Still: IMAX: Review (spoiler free)

Having seen the original, then the trailer for the remake, I came in with low expectations. I recommend you do the same. It got 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, which seemed a bit harsh after watching it. Then I remembered Rotten Tomatoes lists the percentage of critics who recommend the film. This is not a critic’s choice. I’m not sure this is even an average moviegoer’s choice. It’s simply better than we expected, which may say more about our expectations than the film.

The original is an absolute sci-fi classic. It was very easy to improve on the circa-1950 effects, and they did. However, even though this is billed as an IMAX movie, they don’t have any IMAX scenes; they just reformatted it for the bigger screen.

And even though the f/x are much better1, they don’t make up for the changes to the characters’ personalities. The boy, played by Jayden Smith, went from likable to slappable. As for the alien visitor Klaatu, played by Keanu Reeves, well, they removed his personality altogether. To quote Ebert:

He is so solemn, detached and uninvolved he makes Mr. Spock look like Hunter S. Thompson at closing time.

The acting is fine throughout (assuming Smith and Reeves were told to act annoying and wooden, respectively), but solid performances and nice effects can’t save it from bad characterization and plot holes. One of the dangers of making a film more realistic and up to date is that it invites more scrutinizing; unless you’re really thorough, the audience can see the holes better. These guys weren’t so thorough.

Again, the original is a true classic, currently #197 on the IMDB Top 250. For the $17 I spent on the IMAX ticket (plus gas), I could have bought a copy of the original on Blu-ray. I suggest you do that instead.

At Amazon:
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Special Edition) [Blu-ray] (1951)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Two-Disc Special Edition) [DVD] (1951)

  1. For instance, you can’t see wires holding Gort’s arms up []

Orson Scott Card Slams J.K. Rowling

Orson Scott Card, author of Ender’s Game, slams J.K. Rowling for suing a small publisher for copyright infringement. The book, Harry Potter Lexicon, is based on info from a website that Rowling herself awarded in 2004.

Card is right on several points. He does an excellent job pointing out the similarities between Ender’s Game and Harry Potter, which reminded me of Harry Potter vs. Star Wars.

However, he seems so upset about JKR’s actions that he undermines his own agenda. Bringing up the Stouffer lawsuit diminishes his case, as 2 minutes of research shows it is without much merit. For one, the character Larry Potter is not, as he claims, in the Muggles book.

He also speculates on her motives rather unfavorably. I’m wondering if he had space to fill, or was just pissed off and rambling. If he kept his tone a bit more civil it would have made a more convincing argument. If I were to speculate, I’d say that as a literature snob himself (OSC almost got a doctorate in English lit.), he’s a tad peeved that JKR was so successful with her “subliterature”.

What he doesn’t bring up is that Rowling has stated that she wants to do a Harry Potter encyclopedia1. If the Lexicon was done well enough, it could potentially cut into her sales (although with a 10K print run it’d be like a fly buzzing around a cow). I agree that for publicity’s sake, she shouldn’t have sued. She does look rather greedy given her target.

For the record, I think Ender’s Game is one of the best sci fi books in the last 30 years, and the Harry Potter series is pure joy.

  1. Which I wrote about here, but it does contain Book 7 spoilers []

Joss Whedon Borrows from William Gibson for Dollhouse

Joss Whedon is launching a new show called Dollhouse. It’s about people who have their minds wiped, and then have new personalities and skill sets imprinted on them for various activities.

This sounds strikingly similar to William Gibson‘s take on prostitution in the Sprawl Trilogy1. The character Molly Millions once worked as a prostitute, but brothels temporarily imprint a new consciousness on working girls and wipe the memories when it’s over. This very neatly allows all parties to go about guiltless, unless you wake up in the middle of a bad session like Molly does. Then things are not so good.

Ok, that’s just speculation on my part, but tons of people have borrowed from William Gibson. I mean, he coined the terms matrix and cyberspace - the man is a legend.

In Dollhouse, the people (victims?) are given a child-like personality in between gigs. That sounds a lot like Michael Bay’s The Island. Let’s hope Dollhouse is a lot more like the works of William Gibson and less like those of Michael Bay.

Either way, I’m happy it will star the lovely Eliza Dushku.

Eliza Dushku

  1. Which comprises Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, and is preceded by the short story collection Burning Chrome. My memory is a little fuzzy, so it may be from Buring Chrome, which includes Johnny Mnemonic. []

Star Trek Film Cast: Seriously?

I just read the cast listing of the new Star Trek film and my reaction was, “Holy shit. Really?” I knew it was a prequel directed by J.J. Abrams. I had no idea how much they were going to reinvent the show. Here’s the cast:

Bones will be played by Karl Urban. This is the first severe departure as Karl has mainly played big tough guys in Doom, Bourne Supremacy, The Chronicles of Riddick, Lord of the Rings, even Xena. When you think of Bones, you don’t actually picture a guy who could crush your bones:
Karl Urban as Bones

Sulu will be played by John Cho, aka Harold from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. He’s also the guy who introduced us to the term MILF in American Pie. But I don’t think he’s responsible for MILF Hunter. Anyway, not too big of a stretch. The real disappointment is that H&K2 won’t take place in Amsterdam. Lame.

Spock will be played by Zachary Quinto, Sylar from Heroes. Sylar is pretty emotionless, so he’s got practice, but I won’t be able to stop wondering when he’ll bash an alien in the head and steal its powers.

Scotty will be played by Simon Pegg. You of course remember him as Shaun of the Dead, and the super cop from Hot Fuzz. (If you didn’t see it, BTW, Hot Fuzz was awesome.) My first ignorant thought was, “But he’s not Scottish!” Then I remembered James Doohan was Canadian and faked the accent. This is my favorite casting; Simon Pegg kicks ass.

Well, everyone else is an unknown, except for Eric Bana who plays Nero. I’m assuming that’s the bad guy. He’s probably an alien gambler who turns into an unstoppable green monster when he loses money. And it looks like Nimoy will make an appearance as Old Spock. But I’m rather concerned, because I think Shatner is practically irreplaceable. It just occurred to me that Kirk is about as hard to cast as Batman. And by that logic, Christian Bale is the only choice to play him. If you can make an awesome Batman (best ever!), you can make an awesome Kirk. I just wish Abrams had asked me before he picked some random dude.

Jekyll

With so few good shows on television during the summer months, I’ve been looking around for things I’ve missed, especially scanning the “free on demand” features of Time Warner. In doing so, I just discovered Jekyll, a new show on BBC America.

It’s written by Stephen Moffat who brought us Coupling, which I loved until the character Jeff left; then it just wasn’t the same. Jekyll also features Gina Bellman, who played Jane.

Jekyll is nothing like Coupling, however. As you probably guessed from the name, it’s a modern retelling of the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story. It has the feel of a thriller/conspiracy piece, albeit with some funny lines thrown in (and the ridiculously conspicuous black vans are unintentionally hilarious).

Anyway, it’s rather entertaining so far, even though I think Americans are getting made fun of a bit through the token American character (who I’m pretty sure is a Brit doing an American accent). I’ve only seen 2 episodes, but it looks like there are only 6 and no word of a second season. So think of it as a good miniseries, something to help kill time during the summer months and keep you safe from exercise.

Replica Movie Costumes

AbbyShot is a company that makes replica costumes from famous movies (although not always in an official capacity, judging by the names, or lack thereof). Some interesting stuff. And you don’t have to wonder if you’d look silly in them. AbbyShot uses real scifi geeks as models, removing all guesswork!

If you’re hung up on Uma Thurman (and I know some of you are), you can get the jacket she wore in Kill Bill. They also have Neo’s coat from The Matrix, which looks really cool, but I’m concerned about the response I’d get if I tried to wear it. “Holy shit! Agent Smith ate Neo and stole his coat! You’re dead, you fuckin’ coat stealer!” pummel pummel pummel

No, they’ve got exactly one coat that I could pull off. Search your feelings, you know it to be true.