Friday, May 18, 2012

When is your favorite "era" of the future?

The sci-fu ninjas over at whipped up this nifty timescale chart showing how far in the future sci-fi (in books, movies, TV, etc.) has been depicted over the decades. Two interesting points (for me, anyway) are the 1930s when it was all about the "far" future, more than 500 years ahead; and in the 1980s when we were obsessed with the "near future" less than 50 years. This timeframe also saw an influx of cheap sci-fi, especially in movies (Blade Runner, Back to the Future II, among others).

And what the heck happened to far future in the 90s? (Let's face it, there's a lot about the 90s that didn't make sense.)

My preferred era (if one can have such) is in fact the far future. I like things whiz-bang, far out, and epic--or crumbling, post-irratiated, newly barbaric.

It's not really a fine line, I admit.

What's your favorite future era?

Image: io9

Filling in the Map Part III: Artifacts


MISSION: Kuiper Belt Exploration and Prospect Analysis
DATE: 2612.5.18
LOG FILE: Kuiper Belt Expedition 505 - C.S.C. 1001 Helios
AUTHOR: [REDACTED------>], Astro Intelligence Division

After the last transmission we received the C.S.C. Command Council met to go over the evidence. In addition to the Helios' A.I. persona's written report, still images, and poor quality audio, we were able to capture two more images. The first was recovered from one of the geo-rovers that went with the team, below the surface of Tarkas in their drill vehicle "Rocky". Images were then bounced to Helios via drones on the surface and the second of the two files was badly damaged, but the Graphics Dept. is working on enhancing.

Here's the first, we're not sure when exactly it was taken:

The astrobiologists and geology teams are up in arms right now--one of them even claims this is some sort of city-like structure. All analysts on this project are in quarantine until further notice. Nobody calls home--nobody leaves the facility. At this time I'd like to enter into the record my own misgivings about [REDACTED--------------------------->] and I think it's best we assume these [REDACTED---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->]. It's essential we proceed with utmost caution.

At 0850 hours I ordered a press blackout. So far we've been reporting that contact was lost due to a malfunctioning relay satellite, but that won't satisfy them for long. We made such a stink about this mission at the start that the whole thing is ready to go to hell once they catch on.

I'll have orders in one hour, once the Council is out of session.



Session just ended--we're clear to form a special strike team to go in. I'll send mission and manifest details soon, but you should alert your best personnel now and let them know they'll be flying into a hot zone. We're still aiming at keeping this quiet. If word of this leaks, we'll have [REDACTED--------------->] from Naval Space Command chomping at the bit to nuke the entire belt.

One last thing--there's a good chance they won't come home. Give them one hour to contact kin and get them up to the space elevator pad by 1600 hours.



Graphics just finished enhancement. Thought you'd like to see what we're up against:

Mission details to follow shortly.


Images by artist Kilian Eng

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Springcon 2012 at Minnesota State Fairgrounds this weekend

This weekend I'll make my way to the Grandstand at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for Springcon -- one of two comicons held annually in the Twin Cities. The Midwest Comic Book Association does a nice job of organizing what's quickly grown from a small affair to a regional event in the last few years. Here's this year's panel schedule and guests.

I like to go and visit with artists and creators. Many of them are local and really great people. If they've got the time (and I get there early enough) I like to commission some work.

There's often a cadre of superhero cosplayers and some sort of "guest" vehicle. Years past have featured various Batmobiles (natch) as well as the Green Hornet's Black Beauty.

Can't wait!

X-plorers hitting retail stores with new cover

The admirable space admiral John Adams of Brave Halfling Publishing has commissioned a new cover by Steve Zieser (above) for the next printing of the X-plorers RPG. It's quite snazzy if I do say so myself!

While I was able to snag a box set or two in the last printing, I still have yet to lay hands on an actual printed copy myself. So I'm looking forward to getting a full-sized book.

The Pete Mullen cover will still be available through the end of the month.

Engineer: We can build the Enterprise for REALS!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--we should fund a spaceship Kickstarter for a REAL Enterprise. It's by no means a new idea, but someone has finally made a case for a workable plan.

The founder of the Build the Enterprise website, BTE Dan, says he's got an idea to build the starship Enterprise (or a reasonable version of it) to fly in actual outer space in 20 years.

Granted, there will be a few concessions (i.e., no warp speed) but he contends that the technology and know-how to construct an interplanetary space vessel exists--and we can do it in just two decades.

From the Build the Entperise FAQ:
Q: How would building the Enterprise alter our manned space program?

A: The USS Enterprise from Star Trek is a cultural icon, and we should latch part of the US space program on to this icon and build from there. We need a far grander vision of what we should be doing to get humans up into space and how we might gain a permanent foothold there. If we aren’t going to get a sustainable presence up there, then we should stop spending money for putting humans into space and instead focus on robotic missions like sending more advanced rovers to Mars, Venus, and elsewhere. If we are going to ask taxpayers to pay billions of dollars for projects to put Americans into space, it should be for an idea that they can relate to and be inspired by. The general form and characteristics of the spaceship should be inspirational – and building the first generation of USS Enterprise would surely be inspirational.
He makes a reasoned argument for realizing a spaceship, (I'll give him that!) though I think with it would likely take about twice that time to shake out any technical snafus along the way. Still, that's a mere fraction of the 2 and a 1/2 centuries that the Star Trek series postulates the possibility of the Enterprise. And really, who would give up cruising around the solar system in their own hot rod?

He also says we could build a fleet of Enterprises by constructing a new one every 30 years or so with that generation's latest tech. Heck, why not build a spare or seven?

Here's a video of a proposed artificial gravity wheel (1g) to accomodate human habitation on long journeys. It's a neat solution that essentially turns the manned areas of the ship on it's side.

Now if we could only get going with building the utopian society of the Federation....

UPDATE: If that guy wants to possibly approach lightspeed in his design, he should take a look at this new rocket design which smashes matter and antimatter (via MSNBC).


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Filling in the Map Part II: A Deeper Mystery

MISSION: Kuiper Belt Exploration and Prospect Analysis
DATE: 2612.5.5
LOG FILE: Kuiper Belt Expedition 505
AUTHOR: Ship's A.I., S.O.P.H.I.E.

Since our arrival last week at the edge of the Kuiper Belt, we've begun our survey of resident specimens using remote drones. Current Kuiper objects analysed: 58. Today, we found something most extraordinary.

Science officers are still analyzing the data, but it appears we've found an unusual asteroid: 9950 (Tarkas) giving off a high frequency energy signature that the captain has called "the hum". The object has an equatorial diameter of approximately 1,900 km.

"Rocky", our mission rover outfitted with the large diamond-tipped drill apparatus was deployed to the surface. Approximately 2 standard hours after drilling began, a flashing of purple auroras were viewed in various spots on the object.

At the same time a energy spike on the EM sensor registered at +3500 percent.

The anomaly lasted a mere 3.7 seconds, but was visible from both my sensor relays, visual scanners, and crew starboard portholes.

Soon after, Midshipman Wallace observed a "glint" which he approximated to be an elongated "shard" that quickly disappeared. No further observances were made.

Rocky has resumed drilling.


Approximately 17.25 hours after drilling resumed, Rocky has stumbled upon what appears to be a vast cavern system inside 9950 Tarkas. An excursion team has been sent down to have a closer look, but preliminary reports point to an ice cave of immense size.

The captain, with science officers and CSC naval commandos in tow is taking a scanning package with mapping drones Jules our geo-rover into the caves. I've outfitted them with supplies for 1 week. Further reports to follow.

Jules has returned some shocking images. It appears that the ice caverns were only the beginning (tip of the iceberg?). The asteroid's true nature was revealed at 24.25 hours into the mission--it is by all appearances a giant geode. Preliminary findings indicate it's interior composition could be completely filled with massive quartz or quartz-like crystals. While it's not yet understood how this phenomenon could come to pass without regard to volcanic genesis, the occurrence is never the less, astounding.

Science officers also have discovered microbial life growing on the interior walls. Samples have been taken for further study.

The captain has said that he will report back in the next hour with detailed scans and raw data for me to process. Perhaps most intriguing, the captain says that there seems to be ordered paths from one cavern room to the next.

I eagerly await his supplementary report.

At 26.75 hours into the mission, the excursion crew has yet to check in. I've come to the conclusion that the geode's exterior crust and interior make-up are playing a part in hampering communications. Per my standard protocols, I've dispatched a drone to check in on the crew.

Further reports to follow.


------------> %%%////////////

ERROR 00070002301

DATE: 2612.5.9






For the story on the very REAL images, visit Threads of Adventure. Images: 2001: A Space Odyssey, King Moguras model, National Geographic

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Latest "Tron Uprising" trailer hints at story

This preview, narrated by Tron himself (Bruce Boxleitner) gives a peek at the upcoming show which debuts next month on Disney XD. The story takes place between the original Tron and Tron Legacy, with Flynn no where to be seen and Tron having been vanquished. From the look of 'em, the characters have a cool, lanky aesthetic that reminds me of Aeon Flux. (Who remembers MTV's Liquid Television, BTW? Anyone?).

Can't wait!

Props to Comics Alliance.