Monday, June 30, 2008

Sci Fi on BBC 7

Sunday (and available for 6 more days)

The Darker Side of the Border
The Captain of the Polestar: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mysterious tale of apparitions on the ice, adapted for radio. A young doctor sails on a whaling ship. Episode 1 of 3

Report on the Barnhouse Effect
A Kurt Vonnegut celebration beginning with an academic who discovers how to control the forces of nature with his mind.

Doctor Who: Commentaries
The Doctor Who cast and crew discuss the latest episode of the current BBC TV series: The Stolen Earth. Episode 11 of 13.

June 30, 2008 events in SF and fantasy


Vincent D'Onofrio was born on June 30, 1959 in Brooklyn, New York. He has not done a great deal of science fiction, and he was practically unrecognizable for most of the one movie he has starred in - playing Edgar/Bug in Edgar Suit in Men In Black opposite Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in 1997. He was also in The Thirteenth Floor (1999).

Leonard Whiting was born on June 30, 1950 in London, England...a stage actor, he has not done a great deal of film work. He played Dr. Frankenstein in Frankenstein, The True Story (1970), with Michael Sarrazin as the Creature. It was the first attempt to tell Mary Shelley's story as originally written (her Creature looks like a man to start with, and can speak intelligently, but starts to deteriorate as time goes on).


Sunday, June 29, 2008


I just got back from Wall-E, and I enjoyed it.

The first half of the movie takes place on a North America covered in garbage...which it is Wall-E's task to clean up. (Other Wall-E's have fallen by the wayside, he alone remains.) (Small children may constantly barrage parents with questions for the first 10 minutes of the movie, as it shows Wall-E cleaning up garbage...left behind by people who shopped huge conglomerate stores called Buy 'N Large.)

A probe ship lands and deposits Eve, a cool, slick, flying robot that Wall-E falls in love with. Wall-e had found a plant...which he shows to Eve. She puts it in her interior compartment and immediately goes dormant, sending out a signal to the probe to come and get her. (Trying to see if photosynthesis is occurring on earth is her purpose.)

Wall-e follows her onto the ship, which takes them to a huge Buy N Large spaceliner which left earth 700 years ago, now full of thousands of large, chair-bound, computer watching people... but all is not what it seems there...

Lots of good messages here, but one irony. As you went into the theater - at least at my theater - every child was handed a Wall-e watch by the movie clerk. A plastic, blue, ugly thing, which little children will probably love... but the battery isn't replaceable so it's what's called a Planned Obsolescent object. And while I intend to save mine in my movie memorabilia collection (yes, the clerk gave me one even though 'm 45) most kids will throw them straight into the garbage as soon as they stop working...if not sooner!

A Mysterious Turn

When I was a kid, and had a lot more time than I do now, I was interested in both mysteries and science fiction, and purchased a few of the short story digests on a regular basis EQMM, AHMM, IASFFM (Ellery Qeen Mystery Magazie, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Isaac Asimov's Magazine of Science Fictin and Fantasy), as well as Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, etc. etc.

These days I don't have near enough time to do anything, so I don't read any of the digests... except when something serendipitous happens...

In this event, someone bought me a subcription to EQMM as a surprise birthday present (had I but known, I would have asked for Isaac Asimov) and as long as I'm getting it for free, I'll make some time to read it. (It cost $4.99 an issue! That's as much as a paperback used to cost. Now books are $7.99 and about to go up to $9.99!)

There was an interesting section on mystery blogs, (Blog Bytes by Bill Crider) and I thought I'd share those links here.

Blogs by police officers:
Bish's Beat:
The Graveyard Shift: blogger is the author of Police Procedure and Investigation, a guide to writers

And by writers:
Susan Wittig Albert: Lifescapes:
Clea Simon's Cats & Crimes & Rock and Roll:

And finally, a website dedicated to Ellery Queen:

I'll start posting similar suggestions towards science fiction related sites in future entries of this blog.

On a personal note... one more hour, and a half, and I'll be seeing Wall-E! Hope it's good...

Sci fi and fantasy on the radio, June 29, 2008

It's been another week since I've announced what was on BBC Radio 7, so I'll start this daily entry with a recap of what's still on (each radio show is on BBC Radio 7 for 7 days, so you can listen to it whenever yu want.)

The MONDAY offerings are about to drop off screen, but you can still listen to them today:
The Laxian Key
The mysterious deaths of space tourists on Planet Party give planet decontaminators Arnold and Gregor a unique job opportunity. Episode 1 of 4.

Methuselah's Children
Lazarus Long's thoughts begin to turn to home. By Robert A Heinlein. Episode 6 of 6.


The Laxian Key
London is melting! With the whole of earth blaming Arnold and Gregor, the planetary decontaminationists must flee, but where? Episode 2 of 4.

Slaughterhouse 5
Kurt Vonnegut's anti-war classic tells of an innocent abroad, Billy Pilgrim, who stumbles into enemy hands. Robert Jezek reads. Episode 1 of 4.

Old Harry's Game (fantasy/comedy)
Hell is close to bursting, so to stop the flow people must be persuaded to be good. Stars Andy Hamilton. From September 2005. Episode 1 of 4.

The Laxian Key
Guilt stricken Arnold's call home to apologise for melting Earth is traced. Our planetary decontaminationists are on the run. Episode 3 of 4.

Slaughterhouse 5
Billy Pilgrim is both a Prisoner of War and an inadvertent time traveller. Robert Jezek reads Vonnegut's cult absurdist classic. Episode 2 of 4.

When Robin starts to accept his new life in a parallel universe, he discovers 'his' past misdemeanours. Stars Hugh Bonneville. Episode 3 of 6.

The Laxian Key
Arnold and Gregor are about to be bombed senseless by Evans the Welsh vigilante, a fitting reprisal surely for melting Earth. Episode 4 of 4.

Slaughterhouse 5
Anti-hero Billy Pilgrim begins relishing his life in a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore. Robert Jezek reads Kurt Vonnegut's cult book. Episode 3 of 4.

The Voice of God
Can You Hear That: Walker plans to fire the Voice at Pine Gap, risking a global catastrophe. Sam, Joshua and Nick are locked in the brig. Episode 5 of 5.

Methuselah's Children
A colonist enters the alien temple and returns a broken man. Episode 5 of 6.

Heroes: The Official Radio Show
Jon Holmes and Xanthe Fuller analyse the action from the TV series. Send in your theories. Episode 9 of 11.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What happened on June 29 in SF & Fantasy history

What happened on June 29 in SF & Fantasy history: Actors and actresses who have guest-starred or starred in at least 3 science fiction or fantasy movies or TV episodes.

Soon-Tek Oh was born on June 29, 1943 in Japan, but raised in Korea. Made his TV debut in the American TV series, I Spy, in the episode "Kabuki." Mostly Westerns (Kung Fu) and crime dramas, but a few science fiction:
The Invaders - Houseboy in episode The Experiment (1967)
The Man with the Golden Gun (James Bond movie) Lt. Hip (1974)
Logan's Run - Dexter Kim in the episode The Crypt (1977)
The Greatest American Hero - Ernie Shikinami in Thirty Seconds Over Little Tokyo (1983)
Time Trax - character unknwon, in episode Return of the Yakuza (1994)
Babylon 5 - The Muta-Do in episode TKO (1994)
Stargate SG-1 - Moughal in episode Emancipation (1997)

Ray Harryhausen was born on June 29, 1920. Happy 88th, Ray!!!

Bernard Herrmann was born on June 29, 1911. A conductor and composer, he is most famous as the soundtrack writer for many of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous films. But he also did several SF films such as The Day The Earth Stood Still, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Journey To the Center of the Earth, and Jason and the Argonauts. For radio - he did the theme music for Suspense and Orson Welles Mercury Theater. For TV, several Twilight Zones.

John Abineri died in Bath, Somerset, England on June 29, 2000. He was born on May 18, 1928.

Red Dwarf: Rimmer's dad - episode Better Than Life (1988)
Blakes Seven: Ushton - episode Hostage (1979)
Doctor Who: Ranquin - episodes The Power of Kroll (1979)

Fred Saberhagen died on June 29, 2007. He was the author of many science fiction novels.

Cabinet of Curiosities

I've been reading a book called Cabinet of Curiosities: A Delectable Assortment of Remarkable Tales and Outrageous Stories from All Over the World, by Simon Welfare and John Fairley.

Lots of interesting things within, and I just mention a few of them here. If I ever get the time to research them more fully, I will do so...

1) Two turtle experts tried to visit Maziwi Ialand off Tasmania, only to find that it had vanished.

2) Francis Scott Key, who in 1814 wrote the poem that would become the Star Spangled Banner, had a house in Washington, DC. In 1947, a highway was routed through it. The US National Parks Department was ordered to move it. To do so, they took apart the entire house, and stored the pieces. As of 1991 (the year of this book) the house had yet to be found.

3) The Dorak Treasure is "one of the enigmas of modern archaeology. It's discovery, announced in 1959 in the Illlustrated London News, caused excitement not simply beause the hoard apparently came from ancient royal tombs unearthed near the village of Dorak, in Turkey and contained rare figurines, ceremonial battle-axes, fine jewelry, swords, daggers, a magnificent gold cup, and a throne covered with a layer of gold and hierogylphs, apparently a gift from an Egyptian king.

The find was reported by James Mellaart, then Assistant Director of the Britisjh Institute of Archaeology in Ankara. He said that while travelling through Turkey in the summer of 1958 he met a pretty girl on a train. Even more stroiking than her looks was the gold bracelet she wore on her wrist. It looked very old.

The girl confirmed Mellaart's hunch. The bracelet was indeed ancient, part of a treasure trove. She had the rest at home. He was welcome to see it. So when they reached Izmir, Mellaart left the train and went to the girl's hose where she showed him not only other artefacts but lso photographs of the tombs, complete with skeletons. As so often happens when mysteries are under investigation, there was no opportunity to take photographs: his camera was broken. Instead, the archaeologist stayed on for 3 or 4 days, recording as much detail as possible in his notebooks.

Those sketches and Mellaart's testimony are the only evidence that the Dorak treasure ever existed. All efforts to trace the girl later - she said her name was Anna Papastrati - came to nothing. Even the huse which Mellaart claimed to have visited could not be identified.

Missing manuscripts:
(Perfect ideas for plots)
1) Lawrence of Arabia "claimed" that he lost his only copy of the first eight 'books' of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom in a railway refreshment room in Reading in December, 1919.

2) British writer Jilly Cooper put down the first draft of her novel Riders in a London store in 1971, and that was the last she saw of it. (Took her 14 years to rewrite it).

In the early 1980s, a gigantic Egyptian metropolis, the City of Rameses, containing the Pharoah's palace, a ceremonial avenue, rows of sphinxes and four huge statues of Rameses the Magnificent.

This city was buried in the sand dunes at Guadalupe, California, a small town north of Los Angeles. They formed part of a spectacular set built, in 1923, by Cecil B. DeMille for the first version of his epic, The Ten Commandments. When shooting of the film finished, DeMille decided it would be cheaper to bury the set rather than deconstruct it.

DeMille had expected it to be buruied for a thousand years, but it was dug up in 1983. (And a movie has been made about it! A horror movie!)

6. Giant squid have been known to leap out of the water and get caught in the rigging of ships. (Perhaps jumping out of the water in order to escape attack by a sperm whale?)

7. Why is Mt Rushmore called Mt Rushmore, instead of The President's Mountain, for example? Rushmore was a lawyer. According to the story, "a gold miner was riding past the mountain with his attorney, whose name was Rushmore. "What's the name of this mountain?" asked Rushmore. "Why, Mount Rushmore, of course," the miner replied. The name stuck, and in 1930 it was officially given that name.

There are a few "lost villages": Semerwater in Yorkshire, Dunwich, Wharram Percy in Yorkshir, and Cheesewring in Cornwall. Although they're all interesting, the one I find most interesting is POLPHAIL, in Argylshlshire, Scotland. A town, it was built in 1976 for workers constructing the North sea oil platforms. By the time it was ready, the work had gone away. Also of interest are the villages of St. Kilda, and Samson in the Scillies.

8. And the Mona Lisa in the Louvre the "real" Mona Lisa? Apparently, Rembrandt painted several versions.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Science Fiction on BBC Digital Radio 7

I've been very remiss of late in sharing the science fiction that's on offer every week at BBC Radio 7. You can listen to any show at any time, any day of the week. Each day's shows is available to listen to for 7 days.

So, what's on this week?

You can still listen to an ep from Tuesday for the next 20 hours or so..


Atomic Tales
I've Got Your Number: Krank has created a brilliant think piece where all of mankind has a unique number. But what if your number was copied? Episode 3 of 6.

The Day of the Triffids
A visitor to Shirning threatens Bill's family and their future together. Episode 17 of 17.

Old Harry's Game (fantasy)
When the Professor and Thomas discover Satan's never been to sleep, they try to give him forty winks. First heard in May 2001. Episode 5 of 6.


Animal Farm
Bill Nighy reads George Orwell's famous cautionary fable. The windmill is smashed, and Squealer swears it's Snowball's fault. Episode 3 of 5.

Atomic Tales
Land of Plenty: Futuristic tale set on Mars, where human food is stored in specially sealed Mag-cans. What if the can-openers malfunctioned? Episode 4 of 6.

A sci-fi thriller by American author CL Moore. A space bounty hunter lives to regret rescuing a young woman from attack. Episode 1 of 3.


Robin Lightfoot is grumpy yet happily single, then he wakes up to discover he's in a parallel universe, with a wife and kids. Episode 1 of 6.

Atomic Tales
Unstoppable!: The tension continues in the sci-fi serial as a space train hurtles towards Earth. Episode 5 of 6.

A sci-fi thriller set on Mars by American author CL Moore. Northwest Smith discovers the secret power of the alien woman he rescued. Episode 2 of 3.


Animal Farm
Bill Nighy reads George Orwell's famous cautionary fable. Boxer becomes gravely ill, and the animals discover betrayal. Episode 5 of 5.

Atomic Tales
Night of the Cicadas: The cicada is a friendly chirruping insect, but what if it grew to a vast size and hungered for human flesh? Episode 6 of 6.

CL Moore's space thriller on Mars continues. Is Northwest's number up as he falls under the spell of the snake-haired alien? Episode 3 of 3.


Heroes: The Official Radio Show
Jon Holmes and Xanthe Fuller analyse the action from the TV series. Send in your theories. Episode 8 of 11.


Tale about a computer so all-knowing that it seems to have an independent life of its own. Chilling award-winning drama.

Doctor Who: Commentaries
The Doctor Who cast and crew discuss the latest episode, Midnight.

and upcoming on MONDAY

The Voice of God
Fields of Thunder: A series of quakes rocks Australia. When Sam Rideout investigates, she stumbles into a nightmare of biblical proportions. Episode 1 of 5. (The popular serial written by the equally popular Simon Bovey.)

Methuselah's Children
Paul Birchard reads Robert A Heinlein's sci-fi novel about a group of families who can live for several hundred years. Episode 1 of 6.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jouney to the Center of the Earth

The movie is coming July 11.

The trailers for this movie, starring Brendan Fraser, are out, and to date I'm not impressed with them.

The special effects...suck! If you can't do CGI...try the old fashioned way that'll give better results!

And, looks like all the characters are young, but of course there's got to be the obligatory teenager as well, who will doubtless be both know-it-all, obnoxious, and get into trouble requiring rescue. Unless that role will be saved for the token woman.