Science Fiction



Mr SpockWow, Texas just became a lot more … logical. And picking the best film from the original series, nice touch. (You’ll find the scene referred to in this ruling at about two minutes into the clip below.) Great find from Charlie Jane Anders on io9.com:

The wisdom of Spock has guided us all for years, but now it’s enshrined in Texas law. Ruling on the limits of police power, the Texas Supreme Court quoted from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Ruling in Robinson vs. Crown Cork Seal Company (PDF), Justice Don Willett writes:

Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.

And there’s this footnote after the word Vulcan:

See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”



Via Technoccult:

How much do you buy the fringe ideas that have influenced the The American Book of the Dead novels? For example, do you really think the world is in need of a mass die-off to curb over population?

Baum: It’s a disturbing concept and one I’m still exploring. I look at the recent mosque controversy and wonder, for instance, what would happen if there was UFO disclosure. If people think Obama’s a socialist Hitler terrorist now, they might be turned into David Ickean conspiracy theorists at that point – he’s a reptilian. There’s just so much volatility that seems like it could end in violence. People are crazy – how do we introduce new radical ideas into the culture if a centrist like Obama is seen as a radical? I’m not advocating genocide…





It’s probably not entirely coincidental that William Gibson chose to pen this op-ed for the New York Times the week before his new book Zero History is released, but nonetheless you have to pay attention when the author of Neuromancer shares his thoughts on the future landscape of computing and artificial intelligence:

Vancouver, British Columbia

“I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions,” said the search giant’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, in a recent and controversial interview. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” Do we really desire Google to tell us what we should be doing next? I believe that we do, though with some rather complicated qualifiers.

Science fiction never imagined Google, but it certainly imagined computers that would advise us what to do. HAL 9000, in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” will forever come to mind, his advice, we assume, eminently reliable — before his malfunction. But HAL was a discrete entity, a genie in a bottle, something we imagined owning or being assigned. Google is a distributed entity, a two-way membrane, a game-changing tool on the order of the equally handy flint hand ax, with which we chop our way through the very densest thickets of information. Google is all of those things, and a very large and powerful corporation to boot…




Max HeadroomVery interesting essay from Annalee Newitz on io9.com. If you grew up watching American television in the ’80s this was one of the weirdest and most interesting shows on network TV, even for kids like myself who didn’t fully grasp the implications of what I was seeing on the screen. (The show obviously baffled many adults as well, since it only lasted fourteen episodes, thankfully the entire series has finally been released on DVD.)

Making sense of it all and putting the show in perspective twenty years later is Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

For those who don’t know the premise of the 1987—88 series, where every episode begins with the tagline “twenty minutes into the future,” here’s a quick recap. Investigative reporter Edison Carter works for Network 23 in an undefined cyberpunk future, where all media is ad-supported and ratings rule all. Reporters carry “rifle cameras,” gun-shaped video cameras, which are wirelessly linked back to a “controller” in the newsroom. Edison’s controller is Theora, who accesses information online — everything from apartment layouts to secret security footage — to help him with investigations.

They’re aided in their investigations by a sarcastic AI named Max Headroom, built by geek character Bryce and based on Edison’s memories. Sometimes producer Murray (Jeffrey Tambor) helps out, as does Reg, a pirate TV broadcaster known as a “blank” because he’s erased his identity from corporate databases.

In the world of Max Headroom, it’s illegal for televisions to have an off switch. Terrorists are reality TV stars. And super-fast subliminal advertisements called blipverts have started to blow people up by overstimulating the nervous systems of people who are sedentary and eat too much fat…





Rock music and science fiction each shaped the culture of post-World War II America. But only occasionally have the two have been successfully combined (usually, thanks to some ambitious and/or drugged-out musical visionaries). Clarksworld Magazine has a nice historic overview of the use of science fiction themes in pop music. David “Ziggy Stardust” Bowie makes the cut, as does some prog rock. (Prog and sci-fi both share a high nerd factor, of course.) More surprising are the notable finds of sci-fi funk, hip hop, and metal. It’s hard to get deeper and geekier than Rush, though:


It’s not often that the worlds of sci fi and soccer overlap, but the Daily Star reports that former French footie star Eric Cantona (his mega-success at Manchester United led to the…


Rhizome.org has a collection of animated adaptations of sci-fi stories produced in the Soviet Union. Apparently studios in the USSR churned out these eerily films, based on stories by American authors such as Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, throughout the 1980s. Bradbury’s “Here There Be Tygers” works perfectly as a fable warning of the destructiveness of evil capitalist greed.





Science author Kyle Munkittrick notes that science fiction “is no more limiting than period dramas” like Mad Men and Rome, “which also require extensive costumes, elaborate sets, and an extra level of…


All fans of British sci-fi series Doctor Who are familiar with Time Lords, but as happens so often, they are now making the jump from science fiction to science fact, as reported…