Trailer for Arrival, the new Denis Villeneuve film based on a Ted Chiang short story, starring Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner. Ted Chiang on seeing his stories adapted to the screen. Previous Ted Chiang.
Stan Winston School of Character Arts celebrates the 30th anniversary of James Cameron's Aliens with fascinating behind the scenes videos of alien creation and animation.
Netflix’s sci-fi throwback Stranger Things is Yesterday’s Summer Blockbuster Today [A.V. Club] Stranger Things is stylish, beguiling, and eminently bingeable, but it isn’t skeptic-proof. The Duffer brothers, who previously worked on Fox’s surprisingly compelling Wayward Pines, should know by now that open-ended supernatural mysteries are going to dissuade some viewers, particularly those who have felt duped by such stories in the recent past. But anyone willing to push through their resistance will find a borderline hypnotic show that could be to this summer what USA’s Mr. Robot was to last summer: a hyper-stylized niche series that feels essential even at its wobbliest. [more inside]
Craig Baldwin creates "collage essay" films, redeeming or taking revenge on the trash(ed) videos of the past, and making movies on the cheap (YT interview). The work of this culture jammer, media appropriator, director and documentarian (Sonic Outlaws, Archive.org) stretches back to his short student films in the 1970s, and often includes political commentary, usually concerning the exploitation of countries and people under imperialism, capitalist or otherwise. But you might have to look beyond the chaos on the surface, as found in the ultimate conspiracy theory film, Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991 - 48 minutes, Vimeo). [more inside]
Europa's Ocean May Have An Earthlike Chemical Balance. A new NASA study modeling conditions in the ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa suggests that the necessary balance of chemical energy for life could exist there, even if the moon lacks volcanic hydrothermal activity.
A New Empirical Constraint on the Prevalence of Technological Species in the Universe
Recent advances is exoplanet studies provide strong constraints on all astrophysical terms in the Drake Equation...We find that as long as the probability that a habitable zone planet develops a technological species is larger than ~ 10-24, then humanity is not the only time technological intelligence has evolved.(Paper published in Astrobiology [paywalled]; preprint available on arXiv) [more inside]
Nightmare in the Morning, animator Yonatan Tal's 3rd year CalArts student film, takes us along on one alien tyrant's musical journey toward wakefulness. [more inside]
In 1979, scientist Kewaunee Lapseritis was first telepathically contacted by a Sasquatch and an ET simultaneously, which was the shock of his life! To further complicate matters, the contact changed him and he developed psychic ability overnight, which triggered a spiritual transformation. Psychic Sasquatch covers the intersection of hairy hominids, UFOs, and psychic ability. Lapseritis' first book, The Psychic Sasquatch and their UFO Connection was recently featured in The New Yorker. [more inside]
Robert Martens, whose homegrown animations (including adaptations of the Mars Attacks cards, Herbie Popnecker, Jack T. Chick and Struwwelpeter) have been featured here previously, has used his distinctive style of limited animation to create UFOLOGY 101 - Space Spooks and Looney Goons, a weird and charming satirical anthology animation about the history of UFOlogy. References include the celestial phenomenon over Nuremberg in 1561, the claims of George Adamski, and the better-known incidents involving Roswell and Jonestown.
After the damp squib that was the X-Files miniseries, UFOs have had a mostly good week. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitted he saw one and Hillary Clinton pledges to get to the bottom of the mystery. Renewed interest in UFOs even reached the petty criminal demographic as a display piece was stolen from the UFO Museum in Roswell, NM this week.
A live TV interview has left viewers puzzled after a woman standing in the background seemingly disappears into thin air.
Orson Welles, sitting in a dark library and smoking a cigar, narrates the 1975 28-minute long NASA documentary "Who's Out There" on the subjects of Mars, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life and civilizations. Also featuring Carl Sagan.
It’s an experience that may not appeal to everyone—a seven-day cruise at sea, with the aim of “taking back power from corrupt and greedy institutions, attain true self-authority, and realize our genuine Self behind the masks … discovering the truth, taking command of our lives, and attaining genuine inner realization” —with every odd belief you can think of listed as entertainment: GMOs, Monsanto, bee colony collapse, ecology, global warming, climate change, fracking, HIV, autism, Big Pharma, medical suppression, vaccinations, fluoridation,… electoral fraud, identity chips, 2nd amendment, and so much more. Anna Merlan writes charitably yet unflinchingly for Jezebel about her experience joining them [more inside]
Edgar Mitchell, NASA astronaut, Apollo 14 Lunar Module Pilot, and outspoken alien visitation believer, has died at age 85. [more inside]
"I never would have believed it, until one night I woke up around three o'clock in the morning. I felt something cold against my shoulder. It was the ceiling. I was looking down at my own body." Julianne Moore and other actors ask you to think about "the paranormal, one of the biggest issues of our age" in this ad for Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown series of books. Curious about unexplained phenomenon? Tales of events, dismissed as chance, coincidence, or imagination, but what if they aren't? How could you explain it? How did these ads (if not the books) get so popular? Fittingly enough, it may have just been fated in the stars. [more inside]
Watch the Skies is a megagame which throws hundreds of players into the roles of world governments, corporations, the media, alien races and even the pope (Oh, don't forget the Whales) in a day long game of alien invasion* [more inside]
“In 1999, two Canadian astrophysicists, Stéphane Dumas and Yvan Dutil, composed and sent a message into space. The message was composed of twenty-three pages of bitmapped data, and was sent from the RT-70 radio telescope in Yevpatoria, Ukraine, as part of a set of messages called Cosmic Call.” [more inside]
Galaxy of Terror, Mutant (NSFW), Contamination and the joy of cheap alien knockoffs. Prefer the sequel? Here's Aliens remade under the name "Terminator 2". Sadly one take on the franchise that will not be seeing the light of day is Alien Identity, a fan film recently shut down by a cease and desist from Fox. Meanwhile the Neil Blomkamp Alien film continues to incubate.
“Derelict is an editing project for academic purposes,” explains Willins. “Prometheus wasn’t exactly an Alien prequel, but this treats it as such by intercutting the events of Alien with Prometheus in a dual narrative structure. The goal was to assemble the material to emphasize the strengths of Prometheus as well as its ties to Alien.”
Over a mere 22 episodes between 1994 and 1995, a rag tag group of adventurers, thrown together by a shadowy government conspiracy explored a strange new world, ruled by an underground government and populated with strange new creatures. [more inside]
Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, suggests in a NYT Op-Ed that we should "offer the aliens Big Data."
Such a large corpus — with its text, pictures, videos and sounds — would allow clever extraterrestrials to decipher much about our society, and even formulate questions that could be answered with the material in hand.Previously, Stephen Hawking has disagreed.
"What is amazing, is that you can see the feature while the rim is still in front of the line of sight". Unreleased images of "feature number 5" aka the bight spots on Ceres suggest it might be an ice plume. Also we're naming everything after agriculture deities and festivals.
Matt Zoller Seitz hosted a sleepover for his 11 year old son and his son's friends. Soon it came time to watch a movie, which produced: Notes on watching "Aliens" for the first time again, with a bunch of kids .
In 2037 mankind almost destroyed its own planet through greed, pollution and war. Salvation came through the evolution of a new species of hyper intelligent whales. Via telepathy the whales send their grief over the planets sorry state into the minds of every man and woman on earth. This made humanity rethink its ways and the Whale-Human Alliance was founded. With the guidance of the wise whales mankind healed its planet and began to peacefully explore the universe. But peace was not meant to last long. In deep space humanity encountered an evil race of marauding aliens bent on enslaving anyone in its path. Vastly outclassed by the weapons and fighting skills of the aliens the humans had to turn to their brother whales to defend them against this new threat...[2:55] [all videos contain animated violence and gore][more inside]
“Alien 3 was flawed from its inception and it was certainly flawed—actually, pretty fucked up—well before we started shooting. So there you go. Take all of the responsibility, because you’re going to get all of the blame.” — David Fincher [previously]
The Online Legacy of a Suicide Cult and the Webmasters Who Stayed Behind. A short history of the Heaven's Gate Millenarian Cult and the (ex?) members who still keep the page running seventeen years after their last contact with the leader and members.
Consider an arthouse, darker, noir version of Men in Black with secretive alien refugees trapped in Manhattan, tentacle sex and concept art by H. R. Giger. Clair Noto's The Tourist could have been transformed into a great movie in the right hands. Instead, it has languished in permanent development hell since the 1980's. Some call it "the greatest scifi screenplay never produced" (Article, part 1 and 2.) Decide for yourself and read Noto's original screenplay. [more inside]
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
You may have heard how sounds travel farther during a temperature inversion, when air near the ground is cooler than the air above. But do you know how this phenomenon is related to the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico? [more inside]
Flickr user Missing Brick recreates scenes from Aliens (and a few more) with Lego minifigs.
Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication is a free book (PDF) from NASA. The premise is that communication with alien lifeforms will have some (cautious) analogues to interpreting past cultures, and to the work that anthropologists and linguists do cross-culturally. Among the 16 chapters are: Beyond Linear B - The Metasemiotic Challenge of Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Learning To Read - Interstellar Message Decipherment from Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives; and, Mirrors of Our Assumptions: Lessons from an Arthritic Neanderthal.
Swiss media report that HR Giger, famous for his dark and iconic Alien design, has died. He leaves behind a large body of work, much of it displayed in his own museum.
Xenophobic Chill Descends Upon Moscow [NYTimes] “...For now, we have not encountered real aliens. However, the ‘fifth column’ of national traitors in Russia has unfortunately become an incontestable reality.”
The collaborative wiki-as-fiction site, Secure Contain Protect (previously), held a contest to determine which entry will get the coveted SCP - 2000 spot. The theme? Science Fiction. Read the winning entry here, and the rest of the alien-spaceship-crashing-memetic-virus-watching-living-TV-show-spreading contestants here.
On September 13, 1999, nuclear waste from Earth stored on the far side of the Moon exploded in a catastrophic accident. The explosion knocked the Moon out of orbit and sent it, and the 311 inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, hurtling uncontrollably into space. Their subsequent trials and adventures were chronicled... in Space: 1999. [more inside]
Twenty years ago tonight, id Software uploaded Doom to an FTP server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completely changed the video gaming industry. [more inside]
Starships were meant to fly.
Originally created as a special feature for the out-of-print 2003 Aliens DVD, Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' is a warts-and-all documentary about the making of the film.
Andy Martin has a plan to draw a different alien every day for a year, and animate and score a different alien world each month. He's now on month #7. You can see the aliens on the Illustrated Aliens tumblr, or jump right to The Planets on Vimeo. You can read more about his process in this Skwigly interview.
UFO is a 1970 British science fiction television series about a secret military organization which defends the Earth from Alien invaders. The series was created by Gerry & Sylvia Anderson, who previously created the "Supermarionation" puppet TV series in the 1960's (Thunderbirds, Fireball XL-5), and would later create Space: 1999. The production is highly stylized, from the cars, hair styles, and future fashions to Ebert-worthy parties of the future, mesh space shirts and groovy theme music. [more inside]
From The Weyland-Yutani Archives:
During Alien's pre-production, Ridley Scott drew up a story board presentation of Alien for 20th Century Fox. These storyboards are known as 'Ridleygrams'. This story board presentation contains scenes and FX shots that were later re-written or dropped due to budgetary reasons.[more inside]
Is It That Hard to Make A Decent 'Aliens' Game? It is if the abysmal reviews for the new game Aliens: Colonial Marines are accurate. Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker lists the worst moments, while Destructoid's Jim Sterling tears it apart and recommends better Alien games. [more inside]
'Meet Sluggo – a green semi-subterranean inhabitant of Ann Arbor, Michigan. This strange little creature first appeared back in 2008 on a sidewalk, and since then started peaking out of walls cracks, chilling on ledges or doing his daily routines all over the town. Turns out, it was drawn by a local graphic artist David Zinn.'
Illegals -- Aliens as oppressed or oppressing groups in Avatar, Super 8, Attack the Block and... Alf? (Previously)