Friday, August 10, 2012

August 10 - no posts

I'm participating in the AARP Spelling Bee held in Cheyenne on Saturday, Aug 11. Today, Friday, there's a day-long "orientation," talk about keeping active, and mock spelling bee, and I want to attend it.

Will let you know on Sunday how I did...I'm not expecting to win but I do hope to get out of the writtens into the orals. There are 60 participants which must be whittled down to 15 - done so by 4 rounds of 25 written words each. I should be able to beat out 45 people to get on to that platform for the oral round, even if I lose on the first question!

Well, we'll see.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

An interview with space and aviation artist Richard Groh

The Thunder Child is very proud to present an interview with space and aviation artist Richard Groh.

If you're a fan of Space Patrol, Tom Corbett, Space Cadet, Rocketship XM, and so on, you'll love Groh's almost photographic renditions of their iconic space ships. (Prints for sale at his ebay store.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Saw this today. It was okay, for the most part.

Kind of hit close to home with the mother/daughter thing.  My mom gave me anything I wanted when I was a teenager and I never appreciated it....

The penultimate ending (not the ending ending but the climax before the ending) was predictable.... but very well done and the music was fantastic.

Gorgeous animation. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury: 1920-2012

Ray Bradbury died some days ago and I'm sure everyone has seen an obit for him... I just came across this one which is from the World Socialist Website

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury: 1920-2012


The death of American science fiction writer Ray Bradbury June 5 at the age of 91 in Los Angeles has prompted a good deal of analysis of the author’s work, as well as the rather flimsy claim by some on the political right that he was one of them.
Certainly, Bradbury did declare his admiration for Ronald Reagan and King Vidor’s film version of The Fountainhead (1949—based on the novel by Ayn Rand). In the months before his death, moreover, Bradbury expressed the wish that the upcoming election would see a reduction in the size of government, to be followed by a further reduction “soon.”
Bradbury in 1975
This only demonstrates that the relationship between the conscious political views of an artist and the sense he or she makes of the world through his art is not a simple or mechanical one. Bradbury, something of a “libertarian,” was a self-educated, or as he later put it, a “public library-educated” man, who even in his old age would hold readings to benefit a local library. His work evinces a humanism and sympathy for the oppressed completely at odds with the imbecilic selfishness of the Rand cult.
This is the same man, after all, who wrote stories such as “Way in the Middle of the Air,” from early editions of The Martian Chronicles, about persecuted African-Americans taking to the skies to settle on Mars, away from the bigots. Like so many of his stories, this is a hopeful piece, a search for a solution to a seemingly intractable problem on Earth. It was also a bold story to put out at that time—first appearing in Other Worlds in 1950, before the eruption of the civil rights movement—and shone a harsh light on the prejudice and violence faced by so many.
One might suggest that Bradbury, like other, more prominent literary figures before him, was “compelled to withdraw into the past” (Trotsky) by the conditions of his time. His oft-idealized hometown of Waukegan, Illinois made an appearance in a number of his works. Though generally writing about the future, Bradbury was often reaching back to the past with an almost Hawthorne-esque shake of the head at what science, technology and even desire had wrought.
In his own life, Bradbury rejected much of technology, agreeing only last year, for example, to have one of his books, Fahrenheit 451, released as an ebook. The writer was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of an eccentric, even a technophobe. He never learned to drive a car, quite extraordinary for a resident of Los Angeles his entire adult life. Bradbury did not board a commercial airliner until the age of 62.
Yet Fahrenheit 451 (1953)—about a future America where books are banned and a fireman’s job is to burn them—is remarkable for its almost predictive qualities when it comes to gadgets such as tiny personal radios, flat-screen televisions and in-ear communication devices.
Bradbury’s writing on occasion even inspired the development of such things. In an interview with Book Magazine in 1998, Bradbury explained, “I’ve never set out to predict. I just write what later seems to evolve and be true.” He continued, “I was in Japan working on a short film, and one of my hosts came to me and put a Walkman on my ears and said, ‘Fahrenheit 451, Fahrenheit 451!’ The young man who invented it had read [about such a device in] the story and decided to build it.”
There can also be genuine pessimism in Bradbury’s works. In Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), for which he also wrote the screenplay, this comes out quite strongly. The attempts to change what the characters are not satisfied with—in most cases their ages—lead to disaster. Those who do succeed in altering their condition end up dead or enslaved, and the lesson learned by the central characters seems to be to just accept what is.
There was bravery as well in what he wrote. In releasing Fahrenheit 451 at the height of the anti-communist witch-hunt, Bradbury took a significant risk. However, the writer insisted that a statement against McCarthyism was not his intention. Although the novel was viewed and taught for decades as a work aimed against censorship, Bradbury often downplayed the latter issue, and asserted the danger he was warning about was the phenomenon of television.
One can view a video at his site entitled “Bradbury on Censorship/Television” in which the author declares, “I wasn’t worried about freedom. I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV.” When the interviewer notes that Sen. Joseph McCarthy had banned books, Bradbury dismisses this with a casual, “Well, [President Dwight] Eisenhower said put them back, so it was, you know, a few days.” He exhorted librarians to “just quietly put the books back” if censors removed them.
It is doubtful that such comments will stop the use of Fahrenheit 451 as a literary “poster child” for those fighting censorship—after all, Bradbury noted this same thing in a number of other interviews over the years. However it does bring up the question of what happens when an author’s work takes on a meaning not consciously intended by its creator. Fahrenheit 451, far from being a mere complaint against television, is a beautifully wrought work which has inspired generations of free-speech advocates.
In his introduction to Dandelion Wine (1957), Bradbury makes a comment that may reveal more than the writer intends: “It was with great relief, then, that in my early twenties I floundered into a word-association process in which I simply got out of bed each morning, walked to my desk, and put down any word or series of words that happened along in my head.
Bradbury in 1959
“I would then take arms against the word, or for it, and bring on an assortment of characters to weigh the word and show me its meaning in my own life.”
Bradbury was in his “early twenties” in the midst of World War II, the greatest slaughter in world history. Did this and subsequent events have an impact on the writer?
According to Bradbury’s version of things, he wrote instinctively, with his unconscious mind creating the subject and his conscious mind giving it direction. Perhaps, for various reasons, Bradbury was unable to locate himself consciously as an opponent of racism, or McCarthyism. Perhaps his approach was the only way by which he could take on the complex and often grim realities of the time, and offer up his concerns and opposition. He seems to have responded to the difficult present with a series of morality stories encased within a semi-futuristic wrapping.
Bradbury was apparently compelled to project into the future a solution to the problems of racism, the threat of nuclear war, the stultifying atmosphere of the period. It may not be that Bradbury was “repelled” by the new, so much as he was deeply troubled by the post-World War II period. How could he not have felt the impact of the Holocaust, the dropping of bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the onset of the Cold War? Bradbury’s dilemma was one that confronted an entire generation of artists and intellectuals in the US, many of whom turned to the right and helped strengthen a reactionary cultural climate.
Bradbury’s output was remarkable: over 600 short stories, numerous scripts for films and (the loathed) television (including those he wrote for his own show in the 1980s and early 1990s), poetry, nonfiction and children’s books. Most impressive is the quality of the writing itself; he had a tremendous respect for language and brought to the science fiction-fantasy genre a standard to which many subsequent writers have aspired.
Bradbury himself was well read, and inspired by such authors as W. Somerset Maugham and Ernest Hemingway. In an early mantra typed in or around 1947, according to his biographer Jonathan Eller in Becoming Ray Bradbury (2011), he wrote, “Keep chapters to FOUR pages, no more than EIGHT pages. The purpose of a chapter is to contain ONE IDEA! And ONLY one! See Jane Austen! See Tolstoy, Dostoevsky!”
In his own uncompromising approach, Bradbury often found himself at odds, for example, with the writer and anthologist August Derleth, who, as editor of Weird Tales, Bradbury felt was pushing him to produce formulaic work. He resisted and persisted, a struggle from which we have all benefited.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Star Trek: TNG 25th anniversary Two episodes on the big screen..

Tickets available June 8 NCM Fathom and CBS TV are coming together to present a special one night event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Star Trek: The Next Generation 25th Anniversary Event

In Select Movie Theaters Nationwide

Monday, July 23rd at 7:00 PM (local time)

Only One Night!

This summer “boldly go where no one has gone before” and don’t miss the only opportunity to see two of the most popular Next Generation episodes, Ep. 106 “Where No One Has Gone Before” and Ep. 114 “Datalore” on the big screen.

This special event will include exclusive looks at the massive restoration of season one, never-before-seen interviews with the original cast members and behind-the-scenes looks at the artists who created the original FX elements and photography during the making of the show. Audiences will also be privy to an unseen sneak-peak of “Measure of a Man.”

Set in the 24th century, The Next Generation was created by Gene Roddenberry over 20 years after the original Star Trek series. The Next Generation became the longest running series of the Star Trek franchise, consisting of 178 episodes over 7 seasons. Star Trek: The Next Generation 25th Anniversary Event is the first opportunity to see this transcendent digital presentation like no man before, in movie theaters, on Monday, July 23rd at 7:00 PM (local time) with additional late night showings at select movie theater locations. Check your local listings for details.

Don’t miss seeing the futuristic world created in the past.

Want to learn more about events like this one? Join the Fathom Community today to receive updates and alerts.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

March 22 is International Talk Like William Shatner Day

I'm 3 days late for this, and 2 days late to wish Mr. Shatner a happy 81! birthday...

From the Examiner:
March 22 is International Talk Like William Shatner Day

Warm up your vocal chords and practice your pregnant pauses, because March 22 is International Talk Like William Shatner Day.

Originating in 2009, this celebration of all things Shatner takes place annually on William Shatner's birthday. The icon will turn 81 this year.

Shatner himself is going strong, currently touring the country with his one man show, Shatner's World. He'll be performing the show in Dallas on his birthday.

Meanwhile, Shatner's wife, Elizabeth, is working on a birthday present of her own: trying to get her husband's Twitter account up to one million followers.

Friday, March 23, 2012

John Carter of Mars - lousy marketing campaign, excellent movie

I had actually read the John Carter of Mars books 30 years ago, so I knew what to expect going in. (Like Tarzan, John Carter was created in the 1920s. I read them in the 1970s)

Unlike the poor schmucks who had only ever seen the commercials. Apparently, Disney spent $100 million on the ad campaign.

And what does the commercial show? The beautiful Dejah Thoris kissing the hunky John Carter? The beautiful Dejah Thoris kicking butt with her sword? The hunky John Carter kicking butt with his sword? The light-sailing, steam-punk like ships? The fight scenes between the two humanoid cities? Any fight scenes between the 10 foot tall, 4-armed Green tharks and humans?


We get John Carter facing this gigantic four armed white ape, we see him jump over it - in a shot similar to 300, ya know that oft-repeated schtick of the minuscule-clad warrior jumping up at full extension with arms raised, in slow motion, to plunge a sword into someone else... - Carter downs the ape with a big ol hunk of rock and then we see him roll his eyes as another ape enters the scene...

And from that echo of Star Wars (remember the beastie Luke Skywalker kills by dropping a gate on it) the movie-going public who has never heard of John Carter of Mars, let alone Edgar Rice Burroughs, is supposed to want to go see this movie?

Why not trade on Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan! Is Tarzan to un-pc now that we can't even mention his name?

In any event, if you go to see John Carter of Mars, chances are you'll like it. Yes it's slow in bits and the beginning is confusing, as there's a lot of set-up before Carter even reaches Mars, but if you've read the books you'll understand it, and if you haven't read the books, you'll understand it about 15 minutes into the movie, and the beginning will slot into place and you'll appreciate it in retrospect.

Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it without flaws? No. But it is a very entertaining movie, the culture of Mars - the Tharks and the two warring cities of humans - is shown and indeed is a whole new world... it's just a fun film. Go see it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Benderspink And Roddenberry Adapting Graphic Novel Series ‘Days Missing’

From Benderspink And Roddenberry Adapting Graphic Novel Series ‘Days Missing’

The name Roddenberry has been synonymous with the science fiction genre for years. Best known as the creator of ‘Star Trek’, Gene Roddenberry’s career spanned over four decades and spawned six television series, 715 episodes, and eleven films, with a twelfth currently in development. And that’s only ‘Star Trek’.

After Gene’s passing, his son Rod took up the family business, and is now teaming up with Benderspink to co-develop the critically acclaimed graphic novel series ‘Days Missing’ for film and TV. This news from Deadline marks the first time a show has had the Roddenberry name attached to it since ‘Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda’ and ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’.

‘Days Missing’ chronicles 24 hour periods of time that have changed the course of human evolution, but have been erased from the collective human memory by an all-powerful and ancient being known as The Steward, who keeps all the forgotten events logged in his library.

Trevor Roth, creator of the graphic novels and head of development for Roddenberry Entertainment, says that Benderspink “really understands Roddenberry’s brand of science fiction and the potential of this property.” The heir to Roddenberry throne had this to say about the ‘Days Missing’ project:

“Days Missing is another wonderful example of the kind of science fiction Roddenberry stands for—an exploration of the human condition wrapped up in an extraordinary adventure that not only entertains but challenges audiences to think, question and explore. The depth of its characters and the relevance of its dilemmas provide opportunity for viewers to emotionally involve themselves in the story.”

Currently, the third installment of the graphic novel, ‘Days Missing: Enox’, is in production and is slated to be released later this year.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cincinatti, Ohio: Millennicon 26: March 16-18

Millennicon 26 is March 16-18 at the Holiday Inn near I-275 in Sharonville. It’s $40 at the door for the weekend, $15 for Friday or Sunday only, and $25 for Saturday only. For more information, visit

She Blinded Me with Science (Fiction)

From SoapBoxCincinatti: She Blinded Me with Science (Fiction)
Christy Johnson, chair of Millennicon, the Tri-State’s oldest science fiction convention, talks to Soapbox about what it’s like to run a large-scale convention and geek out with sci-fi authors, and why sci-fi isn’t a “guy thing.”

Tell us about the origins of the convention.
Millennicon started out as a group of friends that wanted to hold a science fiction convention. They wanted to have an opportunity to meet with friends and enjoy all things convention related. Now we are in our 26th year and going strong!

How and why did you get involved?
My husband is a huge science fiction fan. He had gone to several conventions, including Millennicon. When we got married, I gave Millennicon a try and found out that I loved it. After a few years, I volunteered to help out at registration, was in charge of it the next and found myself chairperson the year after that. I have been attending Millennicon for almost 20 years now. I started as just an attendee and worked my way up. I have been active on the con-committee for 15 years, 13 as con-chair.

What does the convention represent in the community at large?
The convention is an opportunity to meet other like-minded people that are interested in science fiction, anime, science, fantasy, art, etc. It’s a great way of meeting the authors and getting to know them. Not just local authors but from all over the country and Canada. And many of our guests of honor have won numerous awards and are known all over the world.

How would you describe the types of people Millennicon attracts?
Millennicon is a family- friendly convention that has something for everyone, from the serious science fiction fan to those that just may be interested in the science topics and masquerade. We attract from all walks of life from the students, professionals, rocket scientists (professional and weekend), avid readers of all ages and up-and-coming authors.

Most people have this idea that science fiction is a "guy thing." How does the convention combat this idea?
The notation that science fiction is a “guy thing” hasn't really been valid since the mid-1970s. With the popularity of science fiction television shows and movies like Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, women have always been interested in the genre. Millennicon also showcases some fantasy topics, and both men and women enjoy coming to the convention.

Do you have to go out of your way to attract more women?
No, not really. It is a nice mix of about 50/50 of men and women. What we try to do is attract those families where one spouse may be into science fiction, but we want to have programming for the non-interested spouse and children so that they will enjoy Millennicon, too.

Tell us about the charity the convention raises money for.
Millennicon is the major fundraiser for the Miami Valley Fandom for Literacy (MVFL). It was created in 1995 and was formed to fight both declining literacy and science achievements in the United States. MVFL is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)3 status. The main purpose is to promote the sciences, math and space sciences through the literature of science fiction and fantasy. We donate books and funds to various other non-profit organizations to support these goals.??This year, the convention is also raising money for the Lions Club. We will be collecting used glasses in good shape and auction a basket of goodies for their cause.

Were you always into sci-fi? I always enjoyed watching Star Trek on TV when I was younger. I’m an avid reader and love reading all sorts of books on different topics. I love the science fiction community and those that attend conventions as I feel we have a lot in common. Con-goers are usually well read, love movies of all kinds and have wonderful senses of humor. Before I got married, I still enjoyed reading some science fiction and fantasy.

What does sci-fi represent for you as a reader/viewer/consumer that other genres don't?
The Millennicon con-com (convention committee) as a whole have a variety of interests. We come together for Millennicon because we all enjoy what science fiction has to offer – science-based themes along with fantasy and through many other avenues such as astrology, innovations, technology, astronomy, art, music, and the like.

For example, our con-com has been made up of volunteers that have been teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, writers, business people, engineers, artists, systems engineers, computer specialists, students – and avid readers from all walks of life. This is a good representation of the sort of people that attend Millennicon.

Tell me about this year's convention. What's new/different?
As usual, we will have an art show filled with unique pieces that you can purchase, a dealer's room filled with not only books, but costumes, collectibles and all things fannish. Friday night is our dance. Saturday morning will be our charity auction with tons of stuff to bid on. We not only have a masquerade contest, but afterwards there’s a karaoke get-together for all to enjoy. All through the con, there will be things happening in our gaming room and late-night anime.

We have lots of diverse and interesting science and media panels. There will be art demos, makeup demos and concerts. Many folks are interested in steampunk panels so the convention should be very exciting. We’re also offering a well-rounded track for the younger fan. Our children's programming has been praised on many levels. We try to start our youth on the right track to fall in love with not only reading, but their curiosity for science and technology.

How has the convention changed over the years?
Well, not very much. Millennicon has always prided itself on being able to focus on the literary aspects of science fiction, highlighting the written word versus popular media representation of science fiction and fantasy. Our goal has always been to be a family friendly convention – something for everyone is what we strive for.

What did you change about the convention when you took over as chairperson?
My main strength was to delegate responsibilities while focusing on the strengths of my committee members. I have been able to utilize my organization skills to the benefit the convention as a whole. My proudest accomplishment is our registration process, which I am proud to say, gets more compliments about how organized and speedy our process is as opposed to other conventions that they have attended.

I also started doing surveys during the convention to gauge how well are doing, which has given us invaluable feedback from our con-goers. I also try to maintain a presence through the convention and talk with as many people as I can. This keeps me in touch with what we are doing right and what we can improve on.

Details: Millennicon 26 is March 16-18 at the Holiday Inn near I-275 in Sharonville. It’s $40 at the door for the weekend, $15 for Friday or Sunday only, and $25 for Saturday only. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The Non-Persons by Philip K. Dick

A PDF of Philip K. Dick's short stories, including one called The Non-Persons, is available here:,%20Philip%20K/Dick,%20Philip%20K%20-%20The%20Eye%20of%20Sibyl%20and%20Other%20Stories.pdf

One of the short stories in this compilation is The Non-Persons. I haven't read it, but it was brought to my attention by someone who wrote an essay about a couple of doctors, one of them from Oxford, who were proslethyzing "after-birth abortions" - that is, babies who are actually born can be aborted for any reason - even if they're perfectly healthy - because they don't become "persons" until they're actually old enough to comprehend what's going on around them.

(The article was called Oxford's Nazi Doctors - a misnomer:

Now - I admit that that is bushwa!

And I doubt if anyone except these two whackos would go along with this.

(On the other hand, once a kid has reached age 18 and has been violent since age 12, or whatever, I would think it's pretty obvious he - or she - will never be a contributing member to society. I'd have no problem aborting those schmucks! Or indeed, anyone convicted of a capital crime for which there is absolutely no doubt that they are guilty....)

The author of the abortion commentary was trying to make the point that the pro-lifers do. "IF a baby can be aborted at 3 months, why not 6 months, 9 months, right after birth, etc."

I can't help but think that that's a strawman argument. No one - except the insane - would want to abort a healthy child once it is born. Babies that aren't healthy = well, that's another issue.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Designer of 'Star Wars' look dies in Calif. at 82

From YahooNews: Designer of 'Star Wars' look dies in Calif. at 82
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who developed the look of the first "Star Wars" trilogy's signature characters, sets and spaceships, has died. He was 82.

McQuarrie's death Saturday at his Berkeley home was announced on his official website and Facebook page. John Scoleri, co-author of a book on McQuarrie's art, told the Los Angeles Times ( ) that McQuarrie had suffered from Parkinson's disease.

In a statement on the official "Star Wars" website, George Lucas said McQuarrie was the first person he hired to help him envision what would become some of the top-grossing movies of all time.

McQuarrie's original concepts included the look of some of pop culture's most recognizable characters, including Darth Vader, C-3P0 and R2-D2. He also created the look of the Stormtroopers and the lightsaber.

The Worst Science Fiction Novel of the 19th Century

From The Worst Science Fiction Novel of the 19th Century
A number of science fiction novels were published in the 19th century which hold up today and can genuinely be considered as good literature: Walter Besant's The Inner House, Joseph Nicholson's Thoth, and H.G. Wells' Time Machine. But the good novels are far outnumbered by the bad ones. The borders and matter of the science fiction genre were not consolidated during the 19th century, nor was a standard of professionalism in the genre set, and a number of bad writers produced wretched science fiction during that century.

Nonetheless, there is one novel which outstrips all others in its combination of unreadability, cliché, and thematic foulness: An Entirely New Feature of a Thrilling Novel! Entitled the Social War of the Year 1900, or Conspirators and Lovers. A Lesson for Saints and Sinners.

The Guilty Party

The Social War's author, Simon Mohler Landis (?-1902) , certainly has a record to match his novel. A Pennsylvanian clergyman, Landis claimed to be a doctor, although no proof of this could be found. He was forced to declare bankruptcy at least three times in the 1850s and 1860s, and all of his property was seized and sold by the county, yet within a few years he had always recovered and seemed to be prospering, through a combination of lectures and selling products like Dr. Landis' Celebrated Patent Compound Electro-Magnetic Hot and Cold Air Bath and the Patent Compound Male and Female Magnitude Syringe and Organic Bath. In 1865 he founded the "First Progressive Church of Philadelphia," and as its pastor wrote and A Strictly Private Book on Marriage: Secrets of a Generation (1870), a sexual education book that was so explicit (by the standards of the era) in the ensuing trial for obscenity the book was described as "so lewd and filthy, and obscene that it is unfit to be spread upon the records of this court…and hence to read in the presence of a public audience."

Landis was jailed for five months, then released. He moved from Philadelphia to New York City, then to Detroit, then to Boston, publishing an account of his trial (Prison Life Thoughts) and polemics against doctors, self-abuse, and free love. He died in Boston in 1902.

The Guilty Novel

The Social War was Landis' only work of fiction. Self-published in 1872, Landis turned it into a five-act play in 1873, although there's no record of it being successfully performed. Similarly, sales records are unavailable for The Social War, but its rarity (in print-it is widely available electronically and on microfilm) would indicate that it did not sell well.

And no wonder. Reading it is a painful experience.

Part of the problem is the prose style. Though published in 1872, The Social War reads as if it were written 40 years earlier. By turns impenetrably thick and bombastically hyper-emotionally, The Social War has dated very badly. Choosing a section at random:

The horses ran furiously away; Victor sprang back to the coach, and with the strength of a giant rolled the equipage aside, which relieved the sire; but, Oh! Horror, there was the most gloriously beautiful daughter, for whom the sire prayed for a safe deliverance, dead to all appearances; quickly Victor Juno raised her to his arms, and being a physician, took a small vial from his pocket, and placed to her lips a few drops of unfermented vegetable liquid, which immediately caused slight signs of life!

"Sire," cried Victor Juno, "shall I take the liberty to do my utmost-I am a physician-to restore your daughter?"

"Ten thousand dollars and an everlasting indebtedness to you, sir, for her restoration," responded the old gentleman.

"I'll safe her without dollars or indebtedness, or I am not a normal Naturalist," ejaculated Victor Juno.

The hero now speedily removes the jewels, satins and silks from her swan-like neck and Venus chest, and applies his powerfully magnetic hand upon the nape of the neck, and centring his giant will into his fingers, sends messengers of grace to the nervous centre of the prostrate form of the loveliest of her kind, and in a moment Miss Lucinda Armington opened her eyes, and gave a benignant look into the fiery and heaven-inspired eyes of our hero; and thus the life of the one became the joy and resurrection of the other.

400 pages of this is heavy going.

The Guilty Ideas

But there are any number of novels of earlier decades and centuries, bearing outdated styles but still worth reading because of the novels' ideas. The Social War is, in some ways, imaginative, but its ideas and themes are thoroughly repugnant.

The Social War is about the conflict between the American society and the Naturalists, a military secret society led by Victor Juno. Juno is a physician who believes in using animal magnetism rather than medicine to solve sickness. But Juno is also a minister obsessed with society's sinfulness, and he lectures about this sin at length.

Juno is opposed by organized religion, the medical establishment, and most of all the Conspirators, who are led by three people:

Rob Stew, "what the New Testament would call a Judas Iscariot, a viper, scribe, hypocrite and pharisee. A man who can dissemble and adapt himself to any kind of villainy, who goes about praying and exhorting, claiming to be a chosen vessel of the Lord!"

Joe Pier, who "has many refined, tender and noble feelings, but being one of those milk-and-water creatures who has no mind of his own, nor enough talent to succeed in life without some one to keep him stiff in the back bone, he is just the miserable, though useful instrument in the hands of a Judas-like Deacon Rob Stew-to aid in proselyting [sic] millions to the faith of blue-stocking orthodoxy."

Nancy Clover, "a finely formed female, of profound talent and wheedling capacity. She has the faculty of LOVE OF POWER immensely developed, in addition to a mountain of Self-conceit, which makes her bold and dauntless. Moreover, she possess almost a talismanic power to make every one fall in love with her, whether man or woman, and she always plays upon the lute-strings of affection of those whom she wishes to control, before she attempts to use her LOVE OF POWER over them."

The Conspirators and their followers have power in Philadelphia, but Victor and the aforementioned Lucinda Armington and her father do not bow to them, and the Conspirators kidnap and torment Victor and Lucinda, with Stew repeatedly attempting to rape Lucinda.

The New Utopia

Eventually Victor summons the forces of the Naturalists, who seize weapons and capture the Conspirators. A civil war breaks out, and after the usual plot twists, including the Victor's near-death-by-firing-squad, the Naturalists win. Juno has Stew castrated and the other prisoners of war shot. ictor then declares that the United States will be a theocracy-because "God is a dictator." Victor's ten point rule:

All money must be deposited into the Treasury

The "owners of filthy luchre" and those who have "sinned by indulging in unhealthy habits, such as rum, tobacco, medicine, profanity, licentiousness, and so forth" must "give up your sinning or die!"

"Idleness shall be a felony" and "obedience and submission to fixed law or death is the edict."

Each man, woman, and child must work at least two to three hours every day.

The Naturalists' soldiers were healed without medicines, therefore…medicines, fashions and all artificial and useless things must be abolished instantly!

Self and selfishness for mere isolated gratification shall be treated as a virulent disease, and such invalids must instantly be placed into the institutions of instruction until healed, or remain there for life."

Immigrants must abide by the new ways and are "positively forbidden to introduce, or themselves use, on our soil any agencies…that are prohibited by this proclamation and the new constitution.

No one shall be permitted, under the penalty of death, to destroy or remove valuables from the United States.

Those who do not understand how to act will be esteemed good citizens by instantly applying for information to any of the Secret Order of Naturalists.

Provisions, clothing, tenements, and all necessary things shall from this day be supplied to each as they need, and no one shall usurp more than his or her necessities demand, under the penalty of being imprisoned in the institutions of instruction."

Juno also forbids the free press, and decrees that all who wish to be married must be virgins ("in a natural state." Those who have previously libeled or slandered Juno are branded on the forehead. The parents of weak and sickly children are to be imprisoned. Stew, Pier, and Clover are sentenced to "be branded with our disgracing motto on their foreheads, cheeks, arms, legs, feet, trunk and each one have the letters B and C cut through their ears; after this is done, they shall all four be imprisoned for life in one room, unless I pardon them, where they shall work four hours a day, and be kept as a free show to all the world."

Then two years of famine and pestilence are sent to the United States by God, "to aid the cause of reform, by destroying those who led dissipated lives." The Naturalists are spared, but no one else is, so that "the path for the Naturalists was cleared of all its deteriorating rubbish, and the work of God and man went exultingly along."

As can be seen by the above description, The Social War is reprehensible trash, the most objectionable utopia of the 19th century, and the worst science fiction novel of that period.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google: Technology Is Making Science Fiction Real

From ABC News: Google: Technology Is Making Science Fiction Real
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicted Tuesday that rapid advances in technology will soon transform science fiction into reality — meaning people will have driverless cars, small robots at their command and the ability to experience being in another place without leaving home.

Schmidt said the introduction of books available online, Internet translation of languages and voice recognition for computers all happened much faster than anyone envisioned and that technological research into even more previously unheard of advances is progressing at a fast clip.

"People who predict that holograms and self-driving cars will become reality soon are absolutely right," Schmidt told thousands of attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the planet's largest cell phone trade show.

Schmidt stepped down as Google's chief executive last year but has remained the company's chief representative in the public eye. As CEO, he rarely ventured into long-term visions like those he articulated in Barcelona. He didn't outline how Google, which makes its money from online advertising, would profit from his visions.

Schmidt said research under way will lead to situations where people can put themselves at events like a rock concerts so they can see, hear and even feel the event. And turn down the volume, if it's too loud.

One attendee said she was scared that the possibility could be dehumanizing, but Schmidt replied by holding up his cell phone into the air.

"It has an off button and it is here on the right," Schmidt said. "My point is it is all about your control. If you don't like my version of a rock concert, I'm not forcing you to go."

Small robots could be used so busy people can send them to events for video and voice transmissions when their presence isn't required, Schmidt said.

"In the future you'll be able to dispatch a robot to each event," he said.

Google has been testing driverless cars for years, and Schmidt noted that several U.S. states are already drawing up regulations so they can be used on the road. The technology took a big step forward earlier this month when Nevada became the first state to spell out requirements for the testing of driverless cars on state roads.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval even took a test ride in a self-driving Toyota Prius in July. The car being developed by Google uses radar, sensors that allow the vehicle to "see" the road, other vehicles and people. Human drivers can override the autopilot function.

Google's self-driving cars have logged more than 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers), Schmidt said.

Underlying it all is the explosion of data and devices that consumers will be able to use without even caring if they are logging onto the Internet, Schmidt said.

"The web will be everything, but it will be nothing," he said. "It will be like electricity, it is just there."

People will eventually be able to use virtual reality go to places like Marrakech in Morocco or to North Korea "whenever it has an election," Schmidt said.

Schmidt compared the new connectivity to a "digital watering hole" where everyone will be able to gather, though he acknowledged it will take much longer for people in developing nations with poor connectivity to take part.

"It will redefine the relationship these people have in the world. In times of war and suffering, it will be impossible to ignore the cries of people calling out for help," Schmidt said. "In this new world there will be far fewer places for dictators."

That already happened during the Arab Spring that saw governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya fall, with more turmoil still under way in places like Syria.

"With information comes power and with power comes choice, and smarter resourceful citizens are going to demand a better deal for their communities," Schmidt said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Science fiction, fantasy and pop-culture icons come to life in Roanoke County

From Science fiction, fantasy and pop-culture icons come to life in Roanoke County
ROANOKE CO., Va.— Whether it was Dr. Who, Star Trek or even Battlestar Galactica - fans of all ages were on hand this weekend.

Some guests of the 2012 MystiCon were greeted by a talking cake.

Lovers of science fiction, fantasy and pop-culture came together at the Holiday Inn near Tanglewood to meet fan-favorites, take part in role-playing games and just check out memorabilia from some of their favorite shows and books.

While the event is only in its second year, organizers say they've worked hard to have something that will appeal to the masses.

"MystiCon has something for everyone whether you like to read, look at art, listen to music or watch movies, you're going to find something that you're going to enjoy," MystiCon's Carla Brindle.

Fan Brandon Knight agrees, "This will be my first year coming here, but lots of neat stuff is going on. And, there's lots of people with lots of the same hobbies, I just wanted to be a part of that this year."

Organizers say this year's attendance numbers are on track to double last year's.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Making science fiction a reality show may not be wise

From the Economic Times: Making science fiction a reality show may not be wise
It is hard to believe that a delicate white flower has the power to put Jurassic Park into the documentary genre from improbable (if exciting) science fiction. The Russian scientists' reincarnation of the Silene Stenophylla plant - that flowered 30,000 years ago, before the last Ice Age - seems to be just the first step to making the celluloid fantasies of prehistoric dinosaurs and pterodactyls turn into 21st-century reality shows.

If the cloning techniques of a Japanese scientist succeed, the next creature from the past to be given a 2012 makeover could be the woolly mammoth that died out 5,000 years ago, as remains of both the plant and the pachyderm were retrieved providentially intact from the Siberian permafrost.

As it is, the past has been brought into the present with the announcement this week of the discovery in north-eastern India of an ancient species of a worm-like, burrowing amphibian that existed before the Indian land mass broke away from Gondwanaland 140 million years ago; the prehistoric-looking crocodile seems a sappy teenager by comparison.

Other blasts from the past no doubt lurk in the Earth's rainforests, permafrosts and oceanic trenches, so our reservoir of ancient throwbacks is far from exhausted.

The benefits of having prehistoric relics roaming the earth's ever-shrinking wilderness again are debatable, though Steven Spielberg may disagree. Indeed, our overcrowded planet will not be able to handle the reappearance of antediluvian behemoths; even resurrected plants could upset current ecosystems.

Of course, gaining proficiency in reviving extinct species holds out hope for flora and fauna in line for extinction. Unfortunately, if the world itself ends this year or very soon, as some ancient texts have predicted, all this will come to nought.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?

From I09 (original link has book covers, etc.): What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?
If everything from technology to politics will be different in the future, then so will human reproduction. That's why so much science fiction deals with the question of how humans make babies — or don't make them — in alternate worlds that are often quite close to our own. It's also why reproduction is a political issue. After all, a political campaign represents the promise of a new kind of future.

What will happen if the state takes control of human reproduction? The answers could be weirder than you think — and might terrify pro-life politicians as much as pro-choice advocates. Here are some of the scenarios supplied by science fiction.

State-controlled reproduction is a nightmare

Perhaps the best known work of science fiction about state-controlled reproduction is Margaret Atwood's Christian fundamentalist nightmare, The Handmaid's Tale. Written in the 1980s (and adapted into a film in the 1990s), it's about what would happen if right wing Christian politicians took control of North America in the wake of a nuclear disaster that's left most of the population sterile. Women who are fertile become "handmaids" in the homes of wealthy patriarchs whose wives cannot bear children. Handmaids undergo a humiliating ritual where the patriarch tries to get them pregnant while their barren wives watch - the idea is that God will approve of this because it emulates an Old Testament scenario and the wives are participating "willingly." In reality, the system turns women into property and also sets them against each other. Atwood imagines state-regulated reproduction as a horrific combination of authoritarianism in the public sphere, and spousal abuse and rape in the domestic one.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Other works imagine the state regulating reproduction using the carrot rather than the stick. Brave New World, written in the late 1920s during the height eugenics craze in the United States, imagines a future where the government breeds humans for specialized tasks. Some are designed to be strong but stupid low-caste workers, while others (the Alphas) are given perfect minds and physiques in order to take their places as societal leaders. Every child is also put through years of behavioral conditioning to reinforce their genetic predilections. The result is a society where everybody is content with their positions and sex is purely recreational. Similarly, the movie GATTACA imagines a future where everyone is genetically engineered for various class positions. Both stories include "wild type" characters, non-GMO people whose perspectives cast doubt on the justice of a system where the state determines who you are from conception onward.

You might think that these stories, to the extent that they are about gender, would be like The Handmaid's Tale, where patriarchs or a patriarchal state have decided to take away women's rights to choose how they'll reproduce. But that's simply not the case. In fact, feminist SF writer Sherri Tepper's novel The Gate to Women's Country offers an ambivalent portrait of a future matriarchal society devoted to the eugenics project of breeding men to be less violent.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? You can find a similar theme even in B-movies like Hell Comes to Frogtown, set in a post-apocalyptic world where Rowdy Roddy Piper is captured by a gang of women who hook him up to a sperm-extraction machine so they can get some nice genetic material. A similar fate meets the main character in 1970s cult classic A Boy And His Dog, where a group of subterranean religious nuts capture the virile Don Johnson and hook him to their scary groin cage so they can suck out all his jizz before killing him. Both movies have elements of parody, but they also reveal fairly serious anxieties about men being raped.

The point is, the nightmare of state-controlled reproduction is something that haunts both the male and female imaginations. It's also bound closely with the fear of eugenics breeding programs and designer babies. When contemplating a future where the state takes a heavy hand in reproduction, humans worry about why, exactly, the government wants to take control. What's the payoff? A class of genetically-engineered worker bees? Babies for the chosen few?

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? When women control their own reproduction

One way to do an end-run around these questions is to focus on gender, rather than the state. What would happen if women had complete control over reproduction? This is a fantasy that a lot of feminists have had over the past century, partly as a reaction against the fears that Atwood voices in The Handmaid's Tale. Indeed, one of the first twentieth century works of science fiction, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1915 novel Herland, is about a lost island ruled entirely by women who reproduce by parthenogenesis. They've developed a just society, full of women who have no conception of the "real world" in 1915, where women would never work as warriors, politicians, or doctors. When a group of men accidentally stumbles on the island, Gilman takes the opportunity to explore what it would be like for her male peers to fall in love with women who treat men as their equals.

While Gilman's Herland is arguably a Utopia, feminists of the later twentieth century weren't so sure that a society controlled by women would actually be much better than old-fashioned authoritarian patriarchy. In the James Tiptree, Jr. story "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?", author Alice Sheldon imagines what would happen if some astronauts were knocked off course, Planet of the Apes style, and found themselves orbiting an Earth of the future. A plague has wiped out most of the Earth's population, including all the men, and women are now reproducing through cloning. Their culture has remained fairly stagnant, and the astronauts dream of taking over the female population through their amazing powers of leadership — or just through sexual conquest. Unlike the women in Herland, Sheldon's women couldn't care less about the men. They study the men, possibly getting ready for the old sperm extraction manoeuvre, and then plan to kill them.

Joanna Russ' short story "When It Changed" takes a similarly dim view of what an all-female society on a faraway planet would think about the first men they've encountered. Male astronauts arrive, treat the women condescendingly, and then claim that women on Earth have equal rights. The women have to restrain themselves from killing the men because the male point of view seems so obviously poisonous. In Nicola Griffith's novel Ammonite, the whole "male explorers arrive" problem is solved neatly. A planet full of women who reproduce using parthenogenesis are lucky enough to be immune to a planet-wide pathogen that kills all men. Any male astronauts will die immediately upon arrival, and all the happy lesbians are able to continue on their merry way.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Other authors, most notably Lois McMaster Bujold, imagine that women will take control of reproduction without needing to form female-dominated societies. Many of Bujold's science fiction novels include plots that revolve partly or entirely around the widespread use of "uterine replicators," or artificial wombs. In the novel Barrayar, our hero introduces the uterine replicator to her husband's patriarchal planet and proceeds to save the world. Similarly, the hero of Vonda McIntyre's Dreamsnake is a doctor who can manufacture personalized medicines using her own (modified) body as a chemistry lab. A side-effect of her powers is that she has complete control over when and how she becomes pregnant. In both novels, it's clear that part of what allows our women to be heroes is that they live in worlds where they control reproductive technologies.

Though some pundits claim that feminists want to destroy all men, it's clear from this broad range of stories by women that there is hardly a consensus about how awesome things would be if we could just have a matriarchy, or a world where women controlled reproduction. Even Gilman's female Utopia in Herland welcomes men, and the novel eventually becomes a story about how men and women who are equals can still love each other. Perhaps the most radical of these stories, "When It Changed" and Ammonite, are about women's ambivalence about female power. Russ and Griffith's characters prefer to live without men, but they show us female societies full of violence, strife, and problems.

The problem with abortion

When I was in seventh grade, I read a post-apocalyptic novel by Walter Tevis called Mockingbird that had a profound effect on me. I strongly identified with the characters, who were trying to preserve writing in a post-literate society. But one thing really confused me. To show how awful this future world was, Tevis noted that there were robots on every corner who would give an abortion on demand. Wait, what? As a horny teenage girl, a future full of free, anonymous robot abortion sounded pretty good. But Tevis was hardly the only science fiction writer who thought my idea of Utopia was a nightmare.

In the 1970s, Philip K. Dick made a permanent enemy of Joanna Russ and thousands of other pro-choice activists by writing a short story called "The Pre-Persons." It was about how Roe v. Wade would lead to a world where kids could be "aborted" until their souls entered their bodies — which the US government arbitrarily defined as the moment a child could learn algebra. By that logic, suggests Dick's main character, any adult who has forgotten algebra should be aborted too.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Dick, who described himself as anti-abortion, hit upon a science fiction trope that hasn't changed much since his story was published. Just a few years ago, Neal Shusterman's young adult novel Unwind dealt with almost the same scenario as "The Pre-Persons" — in it, parents can choose to "unwind" their teenagers, or kill them and allow doctors to harvest their organs. Similarly, in the recent stories Never Let Me Go, The Island, and House of the Scorpion, people are allowed to commission clones of themselves who will be raised to adulthood and then harvested for organs. In all of these tales, the soon-to-be-aborted organ donors are shown to be fully human, complex people whose lives are being tragically cut short by horrifically immoral laws.

These stories work with typical science fiction logic, asking how a current political issue (in this case, abortion) might evolve in the future. The fear driving these stories is twofold. First, they raise the question of whether it's appropriate for humans to set an arbitrary distinction between "alive" and "not alive" in the womb, allowing people to abort the latter but not the former. Second, these stories ask whether widespread abortion will usher in radically immoral social systems where people can legally kill autonomous adults for arbitrary reasons like not knowing algebra, or being born a clone.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Another crop of novels suggests that we're ridiculously human-centric for even thinking that these are moral issues. The Color of Distance, The Algebraist, and Triad all feature alien societies where adults routinely kill their children. In The Color of Distance, by Amy Thomson, a human scientist is appalled when she realizes the squid-like aliens she's been living with are regularly eating their own tadpoles. Any tadpole lucky enough to escape being eaten is allowed to mature into a teenager, but only a tiny handful of those teenagers — the smartest and most agile — will be allowed to become adults. The rest are killed. Thomson is careful to point out that the aliens think the human scientist is complete crazy for wanting to preserve every child. It would be completely unsustainable, and destroy their planet.

In The Algebraist, Iain M. Banks introduces us to the Dwellers, gas giant creatures who cheerfully watch their children being killed in the midst of a particularly dangerous airship manoeuvre. Like Thomson's aliens, the Dwellers simply don't fetishize the idea of preserving children's lives at all costs. Once a person has proven to be a competent adult, they have worth. But protecting a child just for the sake of "life" seems, to these aliens, simply wasteful and potentially destructive.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? The real issue is child-rearing

All the stories I've discussed up to this point focus on reproductive rights as an issue that centers basically on conception. Mostly, they ask: Who controls how we have babies, and who says what kinds of babies we can have?

But I would argue that the real issue lurking beneath the surface of those questions is a single, stark query: Who is responsible for raising children?

This certainly goes a long way to explaining why concerns about aborting fetuses can so easily morph into concerns about raising teenagers, as they do in tales like Unwind. It also explains why the stories I discussed earlier, about the state controlling reproduction, are often implicitly or explicitly about eugenics. The goal of a eugenics breeding program isn't to control reproduction; it's to control the population. And that takes us into the realms of child-rearing, education, and ultimately the state control of adults.

One of the often-neglected aspects of the reproductive rights debate is that when women ask to control their reproductive systems, they aren't just saying they want to have sex without fear of pregnancy. Of course pregnancy sucks, and certainly the Alien movies demonstrate in fantastical detail why childbirth is completely gross. Controlling reproduction is more fundamentally about controlling the fates of children, and the adults who care for them.

Children, after all, represent years and years of work. Parenting may be a joy, but it's also undeniably a form of labor that can last a lifetime. So science fiction about reproductive issues often winds up focusing a lot on parenting — the good, the bad, and the ugly of being in charge of a child.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? There was a creepy subplot on Battlestar Galactica where Starbuck is captured by the Cylons, threatened with forced impregnation, and is later imprisoned as the "wife" of the Cylon Leoben. She murders Leoben every time he comes into her prison cell (which she can do because there are a zillion copies of every Cylon), until he brings her a child he claims is hers. Suddenly, Starbuck is emotionally compromised. She wants to protect the child, though part of her wants to kill it, and as a result she can no longer focus on fighting Leoben. The arrival of this child is in many ways more traumatic than Starbuck's forced reproduction because it divides her loyalties and is an emotional distraction.

The idea that child-rearing divides our attention, making us less fit for heroism, is a theme in the Terminator series too. Though Sarah Connor is an incredible hero, she is often portrayed a bad mother, or at least a troubled one. John Connor has been raised in foster homes, as we learn in Terminator 2. In the Sarah Connor Chronicles series, Sarah struggles with devoting time to child-rearing when she has so many other responsibilities. Child-rearing, for women, provokes anxiety because it's so much work — and like Sarah Connor, they often have to do it mostly alone. The eponymous hero of Max Barry's corporate dystopia novel Jennifer Government is, like Sarah Connor, a single mother fighting impossibly brutal enemies. Jennifer's child is never far from her mind, and she's constantly having to take time off from her crime-fighting for mother duties in a way that Batman never would.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Men do struggle with single fatherhood in tales from Enemy Mine and The Road, to Deep Space Nine and Real Steel, and they are often just as torn apart by it as Sarah Connor is. Generally they have to carve out new emotional space for their children, as Hugh Jackman's character does in Real Steel. This can also mean acknowledging that they are unprepared for the rigors of juggling daily work life with daily child-rearing responsibilities. Captain Sisko on Deep Space Nine is probably the least troubled of the bunch in these stories, partly because he's lucky enough to have a self-sufficient, smart kid in Jake, and partly because it seems like the entire space station is willing to help him take care of his son.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? Of course sometimes child-rearing is so awful that parents secretly wish they had aborted their kids. Certainly we can see this dark side of parenting in creepy-child movies like The Omen or even The Brood. In the world of A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, the mother leaves her emotionally distraught child-mecha David by the side of the road when he becomes too needy. And in classic short story "It's a GOOD Life," which became a famous Twilight Zone episode, a child with psychic powers controls everyone in his small town, threatening to send them "to the cornfield" if they show even a hint of displeasure at his bratty behavior. The message in these narratives is clear: The only thing worse than not controlling how you have children is not being able to control your children once they arrive.

It might be useful, as we contemplate the futures offered by science fiction and politics, to consider that the struggle over reproductive rights is really a struggle over parenting. It's not about when the child becomes "alive;" it's who will take care of the child when he's running around the holodeck. And it's not about the state forcing certain people to remain pregnant; it's about the state forcing certain people to spend two decades of their lives devoting an enormous amount of labor to child-rearing.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights? In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley asked what kind of society would be produced by a government that grew and reared children in laboratories. Today's science fiction urges us to ask similar questions about governments that force women and men to rear children that they don't want, cannot afford, and who require work that the adults around them simply cannot perform. What kind of world are we creating when humans cannot prevent unwanted children from beng born? More to the point, we have to ask what those children will think of us when they realize how much more political effort has been put into regulating reproduction than into child-rearing, schools, and activities for young people.

Right now, we live in a world that ignores the importance, expense, and labor of child-rearing. The more we neglect these issues, the more likely it is that our children won't mature into the kinds of autonomous adults who can prevent the equally horrific futures of The Handmaid's Tale and "The Pre-Persons.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Titan's Great Dune Seas Rival Science Fiction Worlds

From Discovery News: Titan's Great Dune Seas Rival Science Fiction Worlds
The desert planets Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune, and the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars trilogy are legendary arid worlds covered in sand dune "seas." And a mere one billion miles away orbiting Saturn the planet-sized moon Titan has all the trimmings of the real deal.

However, with surface temperatures of minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit it's hard to imagine Titan as a sun-parched desert world. Radar imaging from the NASA/ESA Cassini mission reveals that there is nothing in the solar system quite like Titan's immense dune fields.

The dunes make the moon look like God took a giant rake to it. The parallel linear features stretch hundreds of miles across the equatorial regions of Titan, covering a surface area the size of the United States. The photo at the top compares radar images of Titan's dunes to those found in the Namibian desert in southern Africa.

Dunes on planets yield insights to weather and climatic changes and surface geological processes. The Martian dune fields are only at far northern latitudes. Venus has just a few dunes, possibly due to lack of strong surface winds and sand particles. Titan's dunes are gargantuan by comparison. Under Titan's weak gravity -- slightly less than that of our moon -- the dunes are half the height of the St Louis Arch, and a mile across.

Confounding their mystery is that Titan's dunes aren't even made of sand. When ultraviolet light from the sun breaks apart methane high in Titan's atmosphere, it produces ethane and hydrogen. When these chemicals coalesce into particles, they settle out as a tar-like rain. Therefore, dune material literally falls out of Titan’s skies as solid hydrocarbon grains the size of coarse sand.

Don't imagine Dune's giant sand worms or Star Wars' elephant-like Banthas among the dunes. Cryo-life on Titan would be strictly microbial, and undergo metabolism at a snail’s pace.

The hydrocarbon sand is blown northward from the dry southern hemisphere where it builds up dunes along an equatorial belt. Saturn's slightly elliptical orbit means that Titan's southern hemisphere has short intense summers. This makes the southern regions drier. The arid sand is transported by the winds to make dunes.

Given this washboard terrain, engineers imagine future robotic explorers to Titan being balloons that survey the great dune fields, volcanoes and methane seas and lakes.

My favorite drawing board design is called the TALE (Titan Airship Latitude Excursion). The nuclear-powered buoyant gas airship would have enough propulsion to travel at different latitudes, hence survey the Titan landscape from polar lakes to equatorial dunes. It would have a steerable antenna for data relay, the ability to pull up surface samples via a tether, and have an onboard organic analysis laboratory.

An equally ambitions scheme calls for building a small winged drone much like those military drones that fly over Afghanistan. However this drone would cost $715 million and be nuclear-powered. Called the Aviatr, it would take 3D photos of Titan's surface. At the end of its mission the 260 pound aircraft would descend to Titan's surface and attempt a landing on the dunes. Proponents say that a heavier-than-air craft is the best way to freely navigate in Titan's the thick nitrogen atmosphere.

In the far future Earth could have a dune sea like that found on Titan. Despite our worries about global warming, carbon dioxide will eventually be depleted in the atmosphere as it is increasingly locked away in the crust. Without carbon dioxide Earth will no longer be able to regulate its temperature, and will begin to warm as the evolving sun grows brighter. Over one billion years from now from now Earth’s surface temperature will reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, sterilizing much of our planet.

As Earth dehydrates as the oceans evaporate away, the atmosphere will be full of steam. Without water for lubrication, plate tectonics will grind to a halt like a rusty old machine. As with Titan, the last remaining pools of liquid will be at polar latitudes. Wind swept dust should build vast sand dunes along our parched equator.

Ironically, Titan will grow warm enough in the sun's final days to have seas of liquid water. In our restless solar system, one man's Armageddon is another man's Eden.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Science fiction apocalypses live on stage in New Hampshire

From Boing Boing: Science fiction apocalypses live on stage in New Hampshire
John Herman sez, "I am producing 'An Evening of Apocalyptic Theatre' in Portsmouth, NH. Nine plays, nine visions of the end -- including new works by Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction author James Patrick Kelly and best selling author of The Great Typo Hunt, Jeff Deck. A couple argues in a bomb shelter over a dog puzzle. A man gets an unexpected visit from Intergalactic Salvage. CERN scientists experience the romance of multi-verses. PLUS: Not only is the money raised going to three local charities, but I will also shave my head halfway through the show’s run to raise money for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a group that funds childhood cancer research grants"

Riverside, CA: RIVERSIDE: Science fiction lecture set for Feb. 23

From The Press Enterprise: RIVERSIDE: Science fiction lecture set for Feb. 23
George Slusser, curator emeritus of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy at UC Riverside, will lecture on Belgian science fiction writer J.H. Rosny aîné from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in Special Collections & Archives on the fourth floor of Rivera Library at UCR.

The presentation, “J.H. Rosny: Science Fiction’s Unknown Precursor,” is part of the “Afternoons in Special Collections & Archives” series. It is free and open to the public. Parking costs $6.

Slusser, professor emeritus of comparative literature at UCR, and Danièle Châtelain-Slusser, an associate professor of French at the University of Redlands, have written “Three Science Fiction Novellas: From Prehistory to the End of Mankind” (Wesleyan University Press, 2012), a translation of three Rosny novellas with an introductory essay that explains the writer’s place in the science fiction canon and within the context of evolutionary biology.

Rosny aîné (1856-1940) was the first to attempt to narrate the workings of aliens and alternate life forms. Until now, his work — which scholars consider crucial for an understanding of the science fiction genre — has been virtually unknown and unavailable in the English-speaking world.

Slusser has written numerous books and articles in science fiction studies. Châtelain-Slusser is the author of several books and articles on the narrative form in science fiction.

A copy of their book will be available to view along with fliers regarding purchase.

Special Collections & Archives is home to the renowned Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, considered the world’s largest publicly accessible repository of science fiction and related genres.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2 Audio programs featuring Conrad Veidt

1. A doc on Connie put together about April 3, 1993, when the ashes of Connie and his wife Lily were laid to rest in Golders Green

2. Connie has a few lines in the radio play, Return to Berchtesgaden. He speaks at about the 3 minute mark.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Composers Richard and Roger Sherman

From Wikipedia
The Sherman Brothers are an American songwriting duo that specialize in musical films, made up of Robert B. Sherman (born December 19, 1925) and Richard M. Sherman (born June 12, 1928).

The Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history. Film scores of the Sherman Brothers include Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats.

Life and work
Sons of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Robert and Richard Sherman began writing songs together in 1951 on a challenge from their father, Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman. The brothers wrote together and with different songwriting partners throughout the rest of the decade.

In 1958, Robert founded the music publishing company Music World Corporation, which later enjoyed a landmark relationship with Disney's BMI-affiliated publishing arm, Wonderland Music Company. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first top-ten hit with "Tall Paul," sung by Mouseketeer Judy Harriet on the Surf Records label and then covered by Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The success of this song yielded the attention of Walt Disney, who eventually hired the Sherman Brothers as Staff Songwriters for Walt Disney Studios. The first song they wrote on personal assignment by Walt Disney was "Strummin' Song" in 1961. It was used in the Annette Funicello made-for-television movie called The Horsemasters.

While at Disney, the Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical scores than any other songwriters in the history of film. They also wrote what is perhaps their best-known song, "it's a small world (after all)" for the 1964 New York World's Fair. Since then, some have claimed that this has become the most translated and performed song on Earth, although this is largely due to the fact that it is played continuously at Disney's theme park "it's a small world" attractions of the same name.

In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, which includes the songs "Feed The Birds," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," and the Oscar-winning "Chim Chim Cher-ee." Since Mary Poppins' premiere, the Shermans have subsequently earned nine Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Awards, four Grammy Award nominations, and 23 gold- and platinum-certified albums.

Robert and Richard Sherman worked directly for Walt Disney, completing the scores for the live-action musical films The Happiest Millionaire and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band until Disney's death in 1966. Since leaving the company, the brothers have worked freelance as songwriters on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme-park exhibits, and stage musicals.

Their first non-Disney assignment came with Albert R. Broccoli's motion picture production Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, which garnered the brothers their third Academy Award Nomination.

In 1970, the Shermans returned to Disney for a brief stint where they completed work on The Aristocats and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The latter film garnered the brothers their fourth and fifth Oscar Nominations, respectively. 1972 saw the release of Snoopy Come Home, for which the brothers received a Grammy nomination.

In 1973, the Sherman Brothers also made history by becoming the only Americans ever to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer, for which they also authored the screenplay.

In 1976, The Slipper and the Rose was picked to be the Royal Command Performance of the year. The performance was attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. A modern musical adaptation of the classic Cinderella story, Slipper, also featured songs, score, and screenplay by the Sherman Brothers. Two further Academy Award nominations were garnered by the brothers for the film. That same year the Sherman Brothers received their star on the Hollywood "Walk of Fame" directly across from Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Outside the motion-picture realm, their Tony Award-nominated smash hit Over Here! (1974) was the biggest-grossing original Broadway musical of that year. The Sherman Brothers have also written numerous top selling songs including "You're Sixteen," which reached Billboard's Hot 100 top 10 twice: first with Johnny Burnette in 1960 and then at #1 with Ringo Starr more than thirteen years later. Other top-ten hits include "Pineapple Princess," "Let's Get Together," and more.

In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the song score for the Disney film The Tigger Movie. This film marked the brothers' first major motion picture for the Disney company in over 28 years.

In 2002, Chitty hit the London stage, receiving rave reviews. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently the most successful stage show ever produced at the London Palladium, boasting the longest run in that century-old theater's history. On April 28, 2005, a second Chitty company premiered on Broadway (New York City) at the Foxwoods Theatre. The Sherman Brothers wrote an additional six songs specifically for the new stage productions. A successful third company of Chitty is currently touring throughout the United Kingdom.

In 2003, four Sherman Brothers' musicals ranked in the Top 10 Favorite Children's Films of All Time in a British nationwide poll reported by the BBC. Most notably, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) topped the list at #1.

In recent years, with Robert's move to London, England, United Kingdom, the brothers have written many new songs for the stage musical presentations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, produced collaboratively by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.

For their contributions to the motion picture industry, the Sherman brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Blvd. and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 9, 2005. On November 16, 2006, Mary Poppins premiered at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway.

On November 17, 2008 the Sherman Brothers received the National Medal of Arts which is the highest honor conferred upon artists or patrons of the arts by the United States Government. The award was presented by United States President George W. Bush in an East Room ceremony at The White House.

On May 22, 2009, The Boys: the Sherman Brothers’ Story, a critically acclaimed documentary film about the pair, was theatrically released. The film was directed and produced by their sons, Gregory V. Sherman and Jeff Sherman, and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Ben Stiller acted as executive producer for the film. The movie’s tag line is “Brothers. Partners. Strangers,” as the film deals with professional growth of the Academy Award-winning composing team who are best known for their up-beat Disney music, and their later estrangement.

It contains interviews with family members and several individuals in the film industry, including actors such as Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (who worked with the Sherman Brothers on Mary Poppins), producers (Roy E. Disney), fellow film composers (John Williams and Stephen Schwartz), and film critics (Leonard Maltin). The film premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival and the Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2009. The DVD, which contains a full hour of bonus material, was released on November 30, 2010.

In October 2009, Disney released a 59 track, two CD compendium of their work for the studio spanning forty-two years. The CD is titled The Sherman Brothers Songbook.

On March 11, 2010, the Sherman Brothers were presented with a Window on Mainstreet Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in honor of their contribution to Disney theme parks. On May 17, 2010, the Sherman Brothers received the "Career Achievement Award" at The Theatre Museum's 2010 Awards Gala in New York City.

Recent achievements
The Sherman Brothers receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed upon artists from the United States Government. Left to right: Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and U.S. President George W. Bush at The White House, November 17, 2008.

* In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the award winning score to The Tigger Movie which achieved number-one status in both theatrical box office and video sales.

* The Sherman Brothers' classic motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted into a London West End Musical in 2002 and premiered at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002, featuring many new songs and a reworked score by both Sherman Brothers. It was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Musical. The Sherman Brothers each received the Musical Theatre Award from the Variety Club of Great Britain that year as well for Chitty, which finished a record breaking three-and-a-half-year run at the Palladium, becoming the longest running show in the theater's century long history. In 2004, the premiere of Mary Poppins arrived on the stage. In 2005, Poppins was nominated for nine Olivier Awards. In 2005, Chitty went to Broadway and was nominated for nine Tonys and also began its nationwide (UK) tour.

* On June 9, 2005, both Shermans were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Bill Withers, Steve Cropper, John Fogerty, Isaac Hayes, and David Porter.

* On November 16, 2006, the Cameron Mackintosh/Disney production of Mary Poppins made its Broadway premiere at the New Amsterdam Theater featuring the Sherman Brothers’ classic songs.

* In 2007, during the 40th-anniversary DVD re-release of The Jungle Book London press junket, the Sherman Brothers were witnessed by press working on a new song for Inkas in the same Brown's Hotel room where The Jungle Book was originally penned by British writer Rudyard Kipling over a hundred years earlier.

* In February 2008, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang began a second UK tour. In 2008 and 2009, Poppins premiered in numerous cities throughout the world including Stockholm, Copenhagen, Budapest, Toronto, Shanghai, Sydney, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Helsinki. Full UK and US tours of Poppins also commenced in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.

* On May 21, 2011, the Sherman Brothers were each awarded honorary doctorate degrees in Fine Arts from their alma mater, Bard College. This was Robert's second honorary doctorate. His first was granted by Lincoln College on May 12, 1990.

Collaboration from afarSince 2002, Robert Sherman has lived in London, England. He moved from Beverly Hills, while Richard Sherman remained in California. Surprisingly, however, the separation did not impede the brothers' collaborative process; they have credited this to the technological advents of fax machines, e-mail and low-cost international telephone service. Also, both brothers travel between Los Angeles, New York, and London frequently, which also facilitates their work. Since Robert's move, the brothers have continued to collaborate on various musical plays as well as a feature-length animated film musical that incorporates an original story, song score and screenplay.

Major scores
* The Parent Trap, 1961
* Adventures in Color
* A Symposium on Popular Songs, 1962
* In Search of the Castaways, 1962
* Summer Magic, 1963
* The Sword in the Stone, 1963
* Big Red, 1963
* Mary Poppins, 1964
* "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow", 1964
* The Happiest Millionaire, 1967
* The Jungle Book, 1967
* The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, 1968
* Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, 1968
* The Aristocats, 1970
* Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971
* Snoopy, Come Home, 1972 (also performed songs "Me and You" and "Getting It Together" for the soundtrack)
* Charlotte's Web, 1973
* Tom Sawyer, 1973
* Huckleberry Finn, 1974
* The Slipper and the Rose, 1976
* The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 1977
* The Magic of Lassie, 1978
* Magic Journeys, 1982
* Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, 1983
* Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, 1992
* The Mighty Kong, 1998
* Seasons of Giving, 1999
* The Tigger Movie, 2000

Motion picture screenplays
* A Symposium on Popular Songs, 1962 (uncredited)
* Mary Poppins, 1964 (*treatment only, uncredited)
* The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1973
* The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1974
* The Slipper and the Rose, 1976
* The Magic of Lassie, 1978
* Ferdinand the Bull, 1986 (*TV screenplay)
* Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (one of the songwriters)
* Inkas the Ramferinkas, 2013 (announced)

Soundtrack: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Another soundtrack from Kritzerland. This one is also sold out there, but I expect you can get it from Ebay if nowhere else.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang starred Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. (Julie Andrews was asked but didn't want to do the part). It wasn't a success when it first came out.

If I remember correctly I saw it and liked the songs and the last half of the movie - where it goes into the realms of fantasy with kidnapped children and Caractacus Potts and Truly Scrumptious trying to save them - but the beginning part which is just investor Caractacus trying to sell his inventions to an uninterested businessman weren't my cup of tea.

But that triumphant travelling song - who couldn't love it or want to drive to it?

It's a two-disc set. The first disc has the music from the movie, and a few extra songs, the second disc has the music as sung by its composer, Richard Sherman. (Brothers Robert and Richard Sherman are responsible for music and lyrics.)

Another soundtrack that isn't science fiction per se, I admit - but c'mon, a flying car? Back in the 1960s it was science fiction! But I have to admit I just love the music, especially the theme song, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I love driving my car and singing that song!

Here's the list of songs on the first disc. I've bolded theones I listen to - the rest I just skip over!
• Main Title
• You Two
• Toot Sweets
• Hushabye Mountain
• Me Ol’ Bamboo
• Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Truly Scrumptious
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (reprise)
Lovely, Lonely Man
Hushabye Mountain (reprise)
The Roses Of Success

Chu-Chi Face
Doll On A Music Box & Truly Scrumptious
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale
Exit Music
Bonus Tracks (Hushabye Mountain is done again and I love this version)
Main Title (Film Version with sound effects)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale (Film Mix)
Exit Music (Film Mix)

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Composer Les Baxter

From Wikipedia
Les Baxter (March 14, 1922 – January 15, 1996) was an American musician and composer.

Baxter studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory before moving to Los Angeles for further studies at Pepperdine College. Abandoning a concert career as a pianist, he turned to popular music as a singer. At the age of 23 he joined Mel Tormé's Mel-Tones, singing on Artie Shaw records such as "What Is This Thing Called Love?".

Baxter then turned to arranging and conducting for Capitol Records in 1950, and conducted the orchestra of two early Nat King Cole hits, "Mona Lisa" and "Too Young", but both were actually orchestrated by Nelson Riddle. (In later releases of the recordings the credit was corrected to Riddle.). This was not an uncommon practice those days: Baxter himself had arranged Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy" in 1947 for a recording conducted by Frank De Vol. In 1953 he scored his first movie, the sailing travelogue Tanga Tika. With his own orchestra, he released a number of hits including "Ruby" (1953), "Unchained Melody" (1955) and "The Poor People Of Paris" (1956). He also achieved success with concept albums of his own orchestral suites: Le Sacre Du Sauvage, Festival Of The Gnomes, Ports Of Pleasure, and Brazil Now, the first three for Capitol and the fourth on Gene Norman's Crescendo label. The list of musicians on these recordings includes Plas Johnson and Clare Fischer. Baxter also wrote the "Whistle" theme from the TV show Lassie.

Baxter did not restrict his activities to recording. As he once told Soundtrack! magazine, "I never turn anything down".

In the 1960s, he formed the Balladeers, a conservative folk group in suits that at one time featured a young David Crosby. He worked in radio as musical director of The Halls of Ivy (starring Ronald Colman and his wife Benita Hume) and the Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello shows.

Like his counterparts Henry Mancini and Lalo Schifrin, Baxter later worked for the film industry in the 60's and 70's. He worked on movie soundtracks for B-movie studio American International Pictures where he composed and conducted scores for Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films and other horror stories and teenage musicals, including The Pit and the Pendulum, The Comedy of Terrors, Muscle Beach Party, The Dunwich Horror, and Frogs. Howard W. Koch recalled that Baxter composed, orchestrated and recorded the entire score of The Yellow Tomahawk (1954) in a total of three hours for $5,000.

When soundtrack work fell off in the 1980s, he scored music for theme parks such as SeaWorld. In the 1990's, Baxter was widely celebrated, alongside Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman, as one of the progenitors of what had become known as the "exotica" movement.

In his 1996 appreciation for Wired magazine, writer David Toop remembered Baxter thus: "Baxter offered package tours in sound, selling tickets to sedentary tourists who wanted to stroll around some taboo emotions before lunch, view a pagan ceremony, go wild in the sun or conjure a demon, all without leaving home hi-fi comforts in the white suburbs."

Les Baxter has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6314 Hollywood Blvd.

Album, Soundtrack & Compilation

* (1947) Music Out of the Moon (composed by Harry Revel)
* (1948) Perfume Set To Music (composed by Harry Revel)
* (1949) Music for Peace of Mind
* (1950) Yma Sumac: Voice Of The Xtabay
* (1951) Arthur Murray Favorites: Tangos
* (1951) Ritual of the Savage (Le sacre du sauvage)
* (1953) Festival of the Gnomes (composed by Prince di Candriano)
* (1954) Thinking of You
* (1954) The Passions: Featuring Bas Sheva
* (1955) Arthur Murray Favorites: Modern Waltzes
* (1955) Kaleidoscope
* (1956) Tamboo!
* (1956) Les Baxter's La Femme
* (1956) Caribbean Moonlight
* (1957) Skins! Bongo Party with Les Baxter
* (1957) Round the World with Les Baxter
* (1957) Midnight on the Cliffs
* (1957) Ports of Pleasure
* (1958) Space Escapade
* (1958) Selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific
* (1958) Confetti
* (1958) Love is a Fabulous Thing
* (1959) African Jazz
* (1959) Les Baxter's Jungle Jazz
* (1959) Les Baxter's Wild Guitars
* (1959) Barbarian (Goliath and the Barbarians) [OST]
* (1960) The Sacred Idol [OST]
* (1960) House Of Usher / The Fall Of The House Of Usher [OST]
* (1960) Les Baxter's Teen Drums
* (1960) Baxter's Best
* (1960) Young Pops
* (1961) Broadway '61
* (1961) Alakazam the Great [OST]
* (1961) Jewels of the Sea
* (1961) Master of the World [OST]
* (1961) Wild Hi-Fi Drums / Wild Stereo Drums
* (1962) Sensational!
* (1962) Exotica Suite
* (1962) Voices in Rhythm
* (1962) The Primitive and the Passionate
* (1962) The Fabulous Sounds of Les Baxter: Strings, Guitars, Voices!
* (1963) Les Baxter's Balladeers
* (1963) The Academy Award Winners
* (1963) The Soul of the Drums
* (1966) Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) [OST]
* (1966) The Forum: The River is Wide
* (1966) Brazil Now
* (1967) Love is Blue
* (1967) African Blue
* (1968) Moog Rock
* (1968) Hell's Belles [OST]
* (1969) All the Loving Couples [OST]
* (1969) Bora Bora [OST]
* (1969) Bugaloo in Brazil
* (1970) Que Mango!
* (1970) Million Seller Hits
* (1970) Cry of the Banshee [OST]
* (1971) Music of the Devil God Cult: Strange Sounds from Dunwich - The Dunwich Horror [OST]
* (1973) Black Sabbath (1963) [OST]
* (1975) Movie Themes
* (1975) Hit Songs from Spain
* (1978) Born Again
* (1995) The Lost Episode of Les Baxter (1961) [Original Television Soundtrack]
* (1996) By Popular Request
* (1996) The Exotic Moods Of Les Baxter


* (1952) Blue Tango
* (1953) I Love Paris
* (1953) April In Portugal
* (1955) Unchained Melody
* (1955) Medic
* (1955) Wake The Town And Tell The People
* (1956) Foreign Intrigue
* (1956) The Poor People Of Paris
* (1959) Dance, Everyone Dance
* (1960) Pepe