messier object

normally i am not wild about TED

but still, I gotta post this:

Continue reading

do i ever need to update this
2011, November 14, 8:58 am
Filed under: future history, history, science fiction | Tags: , ,

anyways here’s a link for now: more TECHNOLOGY FOR YOUTH magazine covers!

more sovietanea!

Техник молодежи from 1962.

A cover for Technical Youth magazine!  If I had to guess, it’s the same artist who did the cover for the English-language edition of Efremov’s post-Stalin ur-SF Andromeda:

Andromeda, as published in George Hanna's translation for Foreign Language Publishing House, 1959. Pretty dull caption, huh?

paperback club, pt. 1

Okay, so I have started picking up a lot of good paperbacks since I started working at a used bookstore.  Case in point:

Ah, the famous EPCOT-drink mixer-psychedelic explosion sequence - who could ever forget?

I mean, obviously it’s showing its wear and tear, but as a piece of art it’s pretty undeniably cool, even now.

So for a little bit I’m going to post up the best ones I’ve found at a decent enough quality and maybe offer up a few thoughts on what makes them so good or, at least, what makes them so noteworthily of their time.

the first science fiction novel i remember reading

This eluded me for years, what it was called.  It wasn’t this edition, though, but a library edition of the original hardback with the blue cover – on the lower left.

The part I remembered best was the part where they fly around the space station on giant pogo sticks. And where they meet old people who grow huge in space. One of those is an exaggeration, but which? Also I really don't think it was dangerous at all. I mean, they sent a kid up there for a quiz-show prize.

Thanks, parochial school library’s lack of attention to weeding!  You made me what I am today, kinda.

now reading
Sterling Noel – I Killed Stalin

Sterling Noel – I Killed Stalin (1951!)

A recent acquisition from the store.

wikipedia lacks a distinct article for the holler, which is to say hollow
2010, June 6, 1:35 am
Filed under: future history, science fiction | Tags: , ,

but it does have this:

ZootFly’s first development was Hollow. The game was never published. In Hollow, players would assume the role of an expelled US journalist named Tyler Kilmore, who, upon returning to the disco-totalitarian state of Centrope reunites with his fiancée and finds himself being arrested for her murder. The game would feature four distinct environments, ranging from a disco-totalitarian metropolis to a decaying underworld. Intriguingly, each mission in the game would end with a movie-style action sequence showing the player’s best moments.

Holy moly!

the post-war new world order strikes again!
post-war new world order map in fringe 2x16, "peter"

Look! Way in the back, behind John Noble's wig! There it is!

So, Fringe was actually good for once this week so I’ll cover that later but for now! Look! It’s the Post-War New World Order Map (even bigger for your desktop wallpaper needs here)!  I’m not sure why it pops up so often (it was in that Jonny Quest documentary, too) but my guess would be either 1) it looks official and secret, since it’s a bit like real life but not really 2) it’s free 3) there’s high-quality scans online and set dressers need some junk to fill space.

Still, weird that they’re using an alternate-reality map to document the alternate reality that’s supposed to be our reality except everything was invented by Leonard Nimoy as a surrogate for the messy process of the creation of new technology (just like Edison in For Want of a Nail) and also you can travel through dimensions and people turn into scorpions occasionally.  (In a show which, itself, is pretty obsessed with counterfactuality – Walter and Peter, the World Trade Center reveal, “President Kennedy,” some of the Olivia/dead agent boyfriend stuff S1 was getting into near the midpoint)  That is, a reality to which the alternate-reality map is, presumably, an alternate.  Sheesh.

Also, let’s take time to note Fringe’s new 1985 intro look – while the alternate intro has a long and atrocious history of denoting parallel universes in SF teevee over the past decade (‘sup, mirror universe episodes of Enterprise*) this is actually pretty decent at capturing/pointing out the somewhat goofy nature of the Fringe opening credits, along with its more obvious homages to the credits from The X-Files.  Plus it sorta looks like a cross between Look Around You and the Dharma initiation films from Lost, which is always nice.

*of course, this implies I thought the legitimate intros to Enterprise were good, which, well, who the heck would ever say that in the history of the world?

yellow blue tibia, pt. 1

Yellow Blue Tibia is probably the most (personally) important book I didn’t get to read last year because Amazon was shitty at mailing it to me from the UK – a science fiction novel about Soviet SF authors secretly convened by Stalin in ’46 to think up a new threat after America collapses.  The opening is equal parts Bakhnov-style riff on politically correct Soviet science fiction and wide-eyed parody of Herman Kahn’s nuclear planning and wargaming at RAND, which should sound more promising than it is.  So far Adam Roberts seems to have a pretty shaky grasp on Soviet SF culture; the world he’s created has no notion of the “near target” (blizkaia tsel’) or Stalin’s conflicts with SF authors that led to the end of all SF publishing before the Great Patriotic War.  Also, it brings up a question I’ve never pondered before: can an author make references to real figures he probably doesn’t know exist?  The narrator, Konstantin Andreiovich Skvorecky, appears to be something of a vague parody of Ivan Yefremov, having written science fiction about alternate classical worlds, while another seems to be a vague reference to Vladimir Obruchev.  Of course, I’m only about a third of the way through, so we’ll see how it develops…

What man could resist a shaving lotion so laden with futurity?

It’s the future’s future now, but I just want to remind you why you should be reading Brett Holman (who seems to be a nice fellow, too)’s Airminded instead of this blog in the coming second decade of the third millennium*:

Are you going to wait — or be one of the ‘Moderns’? For the sake of your skin and your razor-blades do step out of that rut.

So how is the future invoked here in the pursuit of higher sales figures for Field-day? Most obviously, the city of the future has giant skyscrapers, with aeroplanes (and giant tubes of shaving lotion, ridden by a man who is clearly accustomed to boldly taking charge of his destiny in his dressing-gown) flying in between them. In fact, one of the skyscrapers is also an airport: there’s an aeroplane just taking off from it, and at the top of the tower is a windsock. Aside from the odd heliport or two, downtown airports have failed to materialise, but they remained a possibility in the 1930s. The text mentions such wondrous technological possibilities as glass houses, autogiros, and wrist televisions.

Then there is the rhetorical, almost ritual, use of the names of those two great novels about the future to come out of Britain in the 1930s, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and H. G. Wells’s The Shape of Things to Come (1933) (or rather, the 1936 film-of-the-book, Things to Come). Neither of these can be said to look forwards to the future without any misgivings, however; the one is a dystopia (albeit one masquerading as a utopia), and the other might as well be, at least for the hundreds of millions of people killed along the road to a technologically-sophisticated, tunic-wearing paradise. So they might seem an odd choice for a straightforwardly optimistic (if not entirely straightfaced, perhaps) depiction of the future. But that’s par for the course: the titles of both books very quickly became a shorthand for the unknown future, often with little relation to anything in Huxley or Wells.

Finally, there are all the key words defining the attributes which are to be associated with the future, and with Field-day: it will be revolutionary, incomparably better, different, faster, longer lasting, simple and safe. What man could resist a shaving lotion so laden with futurity? It is indeed the shave of the future, NOW. I do so want to be one of the Moderns, and I’d buy it myself, for sure — except that judging by Google, it looks like neither Field-day nor J. C. and J. Field, Ltd., its manufacturer, actually made it into this future. O brave new world, that doesn’t have such things in it!

*and, yes, I realize we aren’t there yet.