The Edgewise Guide To Filmmaking. Screenwriter Lisa Morton kept a diary while making the very, very strange 1989 movie Meet The Hollowheads (trailer). The low-budget sci-fi/horror/social comment/sitcom takes place in a dystopian underground suburb whose entire infrastructure, operated by monopolist corporation United Umblicial, consists of flexible tubes which carry waste, energy, and slimy and sometimes still living comestibles. The movie, the one and only directorial effort of horror FX and make-up man Tom Burman, inspires confusion and dismay in most viewers. Hollowheads stars John Glover and features a 14-year-old Juliette Lewis, her big brother Lightfield, a musical instrument made out of a live chicken, an eyeball attached to a large intestine that lives in a glass tank, and an uncredited Bobcat Goldthwait as a lascivious cop, whose few lines include "When will children learn to just say no to butt polish?"
Finnish YouTube user Ishexan has uploaded seven English subtitled movies in parts: Broken Blossoms (1919), Aelita (1924), The Gipsy Charmer (1929), The Tragedy of Elina (1938), The Activists (1939), The Wooden Pauper's Bride (1944), and Sampo (1959), which is based on the epic poem The Kalevala. The films are mostly Finnish, though Aelita is a silent Russian sci-fi film, and Sampo was a joint Finnish and Soviet production. More film clips inside (mostly Finnish documentaries and "dorky musical numbers"). [more inside]
Fans of George RR Martin's "The Song of Ice and Fire" series are eagerly awaiting "A Dance With Dragons", the next book. This anticipation has led to hostility from some fans as to Martin's work ethic and the manner in which he spends his personal time.
"Welcome to the Zion Archive. You have selected Historical File #12-1: The Second Renaissance." So begins the short film of the same name by Mahiro Maeda [Flash: 1 2 - QuickTime: 1 2] -- a devastating yet beautiful work of animation. Originally produced to explain the backstory behind the Matrix trilogy, Maeda's project ended up telling a story far darker and more affecting than any blockbuster. Using a blend of faux documentary footage and visual metaphor, his serene Instructor relates in biblical tones the saga of Man and Machine, how age-old cruelty and hatred birthed a horrifying, apocalyptic struggle that consumed the world. Packed with striking imagery and historical allusions galore, this dark allegory easily transcends the films it was made for. But while "The Second Renaissance" is arguably the best work to come from the Matrix franchise, it's hardly alone -- it's just one of the projects made for The Animatrix, a collection of nine superb anime films in a wide variety of styles designed to explore the universe and broaden its scope beyond the usual sci-fi action of the movies. Click inside for a guide to these films with links to where they can be watched online, along with a look at The Matrix Comics, a free series of comics, art, and short fiction created for the same purpose by some of the best talent in the business. [more inside]
Starship Schematics Database: dedicated to the sole purpose of archiving every single starship design ever conceived in the Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Space Battleship Yamato (A.K.A. Star Blazers in the USA) Universes, both official and unofficial, interesting and mediocre.
"Let's do those drive-in totals. We have: Nineteen dead bodies (plus fragments). Ten breasts (shame on you, TNT censors). Two zombie breasts. One-hundred twenty-five zombies. Mummy dogs. One-half zombie dog. Ten gallons blood. Brain-eating. Gratuitous embalming. Zombie fu. Nekkid punk-rocker fondue. Gratuitous midget zombie. Torso S&M. One motor vehicle chase (totalled by zombies). Pool cue fu. No aardvarking. Heads roll. Brains roll. Arms roll. Hands roll. Joe Bob says, Check It Out." Only on MonsterVision. [more inside]
Six or seven stances science fiction movies take towards science. From John Holbo at Crooked Timber. [more inside]
Ted Chiang is perhaps the finest author in contemporary science fiction -- and the most rarefied. A technical writer by trade and a graduate of the distinguished Clarion Writers Workshop, Chiang has published only twelve short stories in the last twenty years, one dozen masterpieces of the genre whose insightful, precise, often poetic language confronts fundamental ideas -- intelligence, consciousness, the nature of God -- and thrusts them into a dazzling new light. Click inside for a complete listing of Chiang's work, with links to online reprints or audio recordings where available, as well as a collection of one-on-one interviews, links to his nonfiction essays, and a few other related sites and articles. [more inside]
Pulp Fiction is an exhibition of (mostly) Australian pulp novel and magazine covers from the University of Otago Special Collections Library. (NSFW)
Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the movie's release, The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back chronicles the complete tale—from pre-release to blockbuster success — of what’s become the fan favorite of the Star Wars series. Vanity Fair presents an excerpt from the book: rarely seen photographs from the Empire Strikes Back set, annotated with behind-the-scenes details. They also have interviews with the book’s author, J. W. Rinzler, and the man behind Boba Fett’s mask, actor Jeremy Bulloch." On a lighter note, how about a Wampa Throw Rug, new from the folks at ThinkGeek?
Behind the opening scenes of Blade Runner. “Doug and his Entertainment Effects Group team created thousands of acid-etched brass miniatures lit from below with hundreds of bundles of fiber-optic lights, shot in forced-perspective through layers of smoke to create layers of light refraction, creating depth.” The first of a three-part series on the making of Blade Runner’s unforgettable opening sequence.
Snippets of poetry from the Imperium; a sample folk tale from the Oral History; brief biographies of over a dozen Duncan Idahos; two differing approaches to Paul Muad'Dib himself and to his son Leto II; Fremen recipes; Fremen history; secrets of the Bene Gesserit; the songs of Gurney Halleck -- these are just some of the treasures found when an earthmover fell into the God Emperor's no-room at Dar-es-Balat. Out of print for more than two decades, disavowed by Frank Herbert's estate, and highly sought-after by fans, the legendary Dune Encyclopedia is now available online as a fully illustrated and searchable PDF [direct link]. [more inside]
Futurama has always been a haven for geek humor, but last week's episode "The Prisoner of Benda" pushed things to the next level. First hinted at in an American Physical Society interview with showrunner David X. Cohen (previously), staff writer and mathematics Ph.D. Ken Keeler devised a novel mathematical proof based on group theory to resolve the logic puzzle spawned by the episode's brain-swapping (but no backsies!) conceit. Curious how it works? Read the proof (in the show or in plain text), then see it in action using this handy chart. Too much math for a lazy Sunday? Then entertain your brain with lengthy clips from the episode -- including two of the funniest moments in the series in the span of two minutes.
The whole of Mars' surface was shaped by liquid water around four billion years ago, say scientists. Scientists with the best names possible for the job. [more inside]
The Martians And Us a BBC documentary series on the history of British science fiction. Part 1 - 'From Apes To Aliens' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Part 2 - 'Trouble In Paradise' (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) Part 3 - The End Of The World As We Know It (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) [more inside]
In an exclusive interview with MTV, Ridley Scott releases further details on his latest project: two 3D Alien prequels, which will have a non-Ripley female lead and focus on the story behind the first movie's "Space Jockey." [more inside]
Pigs in Space appeared in over 30 Muppet Show episodes and spoofed contemporary science fiction television series. Most of them are now on YouTube or other video streaming sites. Links inside. [more inside]
"He surely had an indispensable role in the morphing of suburbia into disturbia in the cultural imagination, the real conception underlying the pretend-naïveté about the Sheppertons of the city and the mind--not only in the simple and tediously scandalous fact of his living there but in the power of his depicted suburbs too." China Mieville reviews J. G. Ballard's posthumous collection of short fiction.
He invented or popularized a startling array of the fundamental elements of film: the dissolve, the fade-in and fade-out, slow motion, fast motion, stop motion, double exposures and multiple exposures, miniatures, the in-camera matte, time-lapse photography, color film (albeit hand-painted), artificial film lighting, production sketches and storyboards, and the whole idea of narrative film.
By 1897, in a studio of his own design and construction – the first complete movie studio – his hand forged virtually everything on his screen. Norman McLaren writes, "He was not only his own producer, ideas man, script writer, but he was his own set-builder, scene painter, choreographer, deviser of mechanical contrivances, special effects man, costume designer, model maker, actor, multiple actor, editor and distributor." Also, his own cinematographer, and the inventor of cameras to suit his special conceptions. Not even auteur directors such as Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, John Cassavetes, and Stanley Kubrick would personally author so many aspects of their films."Inside: 57 films by Georges Méliès, the Grandfather of Visual Effects. [more inside]
Famous Monsters of Filmland, the legendary genre magazine edited by the late Forrest J Ackerman (previously), will be resurrected by comic publisher IDW.
Stargate Universe ("SGU") premieres this evening in the US and Canada, on 10/6 in the UK and Ireland and in Australia on 10/9. Billed as "military scifi," the series is reportedly less campy than its predecessors and uses thematic elements which will seem familiar to Battlestar Galactica fans. Preview trailer. For US viewers, Hulu will be streaming the show a day after it airs. Reviews are mixed. Wikipedia.
King of an Endless Sky is a new graphic story by Teetering Bulb, AKA Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon. A new page every Thursday, published at Tor.com. [more inside]
Timelines: Time Travel in Popular Film and TV is a beautiful visualization of that most favored science fiction gimmick. For a more thorough, but less pretty, view of science fiction that messes with history, there is a chronology of when 1,800 different alternate history stories deviate from our own time line. Also, a brief look at the logic of time travel in science fiction, and how it should work.
Welcome to District 9. Director Neill Blomkamp turns his sci-fi short "Alive in Joburg" into a full-length feature film - examining xenophobia in an allegory of Apartheid, set in a slum recalling District 6 of Cape Town in South Africa.
John Anealio records songs inspired by science fiction and fantasy. Sing along about Cylons, Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and about how "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch" (previously).
28 years ago they came to Earth. Explore the world of District 9. Consider a career with Multi-National United. Find out about enhancing your math skills with DNA from outer space. Play the game. And learn the truth behind the lies.
Alien Nation is being revived for the SyFy channel by Tim Minear, whose previous credits include Firefly and Angel. [more inside]
Rules for Time Travelers [Spoiler? alert.]
StarshipSofa has podcasted all of the Nebula Best Short Story Nominees for 2008, following on from podcasting all but one of the 2008 BSFA short story nominees. Previous StarshipSofa.
Keep watching the skies - The New York Times looks back at 50s Sci Fi films in anticipation of Alien Trespass, the new film from X-Files veteran R.K. Goodwin. One or two of those classics haven't even been remade yet!
Fantasy Meets Reality. The very best works of science fiction illuminate controversial current events and the intricacies of human nature. So, it's no surprise that the United Nations Public Information Department and the Sci Fi (SyFy?) Channel co-hosted a panel yesterday evening on "humanitarian concerns" at the UN, with the creators and actors of Battlestar Galactica -- a show which regularly explores those themes. A 2-hour video webcast is archived here. (RealPlayer video). Entertainment Weekly has an additional write-up. [more inside]
Sci Fi has a new name. Now it's SyFy. The Sci Fi Channel is distancing itself from its geek demographic by rebranding its network. The former SyFy Portal website (a nerd news outlet) has been rebranded "Airlock Alpha" after selling the name to an "undisclosed recipient".
Previously discussed last fall, ABC has officially greenlit a pilot for its reworking of "V." [more inside]
Top 10 Science Fiction Flicks For The Thinking Man (beerandscifi version) - The Portland based blog (with a very admirable focus) takes on the Rotten Tomatoes list with a less dull alternative. (via)
A 1926 Brazilian sci-fi novel predicts a U.S. election determined by race and gender. O Presidente Negro envisions the 2228 U.S. presidential election. In that race, the white male incumbent, President Kerlog, finds himself running against Evelyn Astor, a white feminist, and James Roy Wilde, the cultivated and brilliant leader of the Black Association, "a man who is more than just a single man ... what we call a leader of the masses."
The Doctor is set to regenerate once again as David Tennant calls time on Doctor Who. "When Doctor Who returns in 2010 it won’t be with me" Tennant, widely acknowledged as one of the most popular actors ever to play the Doctor, said. "Now don’t make me cry. The 2009 shows will be my last playing the doctor.” [more inside]
The Earth Dies Screaming [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5] [Part 6] [Part 7] [more inside]
Too bad the guy was only thirty eight - just two years older, he'd have been worth three times the points...
Did you grow up anticipating sports where death would be likely, if not certain? Almost certainly played by convicts, possibly with robot limbs? And which would be even more likely to have chainsaws and flamethrowers not usually found in the sports of today? Those We Left Behind’s look at Future-sports of the past, in videogames, movies and comics is for you!
Daniel Keys' classic 1959 Science Fiction story "Flowers for Algernon", which takes place in a series of diary entries, has been posted online as a blog. Of course, you'll need to read it backwards, from the earliest entry to the latest, to avoid giving away the ending... [via]
Johnna Klukas makes science fiction wood carvings, sculpture and furniture. She has also detailed her techniques (with more "coming soon").
Warren Ellis on the grim future of science fiction magazines. Some of the previous posts he mentions, and response to one from Cory Doctorow (unsuprising short summary: Blogs!). Jason Stoddard on 5 small things and 5 big things Science Fiction can do to improve its image.