Sifting through decades of publications, oral history and archival records, Michael Kmet sets the record straight on numerous aspects Star Trek: TOS production history lore. Was "Spock's Brain" originally conceived as a comedy episode? Did Roddenberry write the lyrics to the theme song as a cash grab? Which of the Mercury Seven did Roddenberry try to get as guest stars? [more inside]
The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
SF conventions, and snapshots of SF conventions, go back a long time. Here's Midwestcon 2, put on by the Cincinnati Fantasy group in June 1951; shots include a haunting image of Henry Burwell, publisher of Atlanta zine Science Fiction Digest, and an already-old E.E. "Doc" Smith. From Retronaut, an unnamed 1980 con in LA. From the Mills photo archive, con costumes from the late 60s through the 80s. Forrest Ackerman, editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, in "futuristic costume" at the first WorldCon in 1939. This last from the endless compendium that is the MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive.
"I'm in a nondescript warehouse in Seattle, to which I've traveled so that award-winning science fiction novelists can demonstrate how they could cut me in half if they felt like it." i09 Talks to Neal Stephenson about working on the multi-author IP-experiment *thing* The Mongoliad and sword fighting as a heart-healthy hobby.
In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall) of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church and Pike committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George H. White,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
Out Of This World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It is an exhibition at the British Library exploring the origins of Science Fiction, running until September. China Mieville takes a look at the exhibition for the BBC. (Out Of This World postcards - images from the exhibition) [more inside]
If you wouldn't like living that way (in the lowest status slot in the pecking order), you're doing it wrong.
Metafilter's Own Charlie Stross asks the question; " You, and a quarter of a million other folks, have embarked on a 1000-year voyage aboard a hollowed-out asteroid. What sort of governance and society do you think would be most comfortable, not to mention likely to survive the trip without civil war, famine, and reigns of terror?" engrossing commentary follows. (via)
The Art of Penguin Science Fiction is a historical guide to the design of book jackets in the Penguin SF line by James Pardey. But before reading the essay I recommend looking at some of the wonderful cover designs, for example We, Deathworld, Rork!, The Drowned World, Star Maker, The Evolution Man, Fifth Planet and Alternating Currents. They certainly don't make SF book jackets like they used to. All hundred plus covers can also be browsed alphabetically by author. [via The Guardian Books Blog]
' "Predictive programming works by means of the propagation of the illusion of an infallibly accurate vision of how the world is going to look in the future". Through the circulation of science "fiction" literature, the ignorant masses are provided with semiotic intimations of coming events. Within such literary works are narrative paradigms that are politically and socially expedient to the power elite. Thus, when the future unfolds as planned, it assumes the paradigmatic character of the "fiction" that foretold it...........' The Illuminati: an all encompassing conspiracy stranger than any fiction