Tag Archives: Science Fiction

A Lot More Q&A with Rod Serling

After watching the Rod Serling video compilation back in July, I’ve gone down a modest Rod Serling rabbit hole looking for other videos and talks and interviews he’s given.

As you might imagine, YouTube does provide.

This nearly hour-long entry is essentially a long question-answer session from UCLA circa 1971. As with many of the other videos I’ve come across, many of his answers and references are very topical to 1971, so be warned that you may need to fire your history synapses for some of the shows and events cited.

Nevertheless, I found many of the answers –even though they were very much of the time regarding the recent departure of Star Trek from the airwaves to Serling’s displeasure at his current gig Night Gallery– to be interesting enough to share.

via UCLA

Now, while this is a video, it’s simply a recording of the session at UCLA… and because there wasn’t any presumption of broadcast, you’ll hear some salty language from both Serling and some of the student. Also, and this is something I’ve found in some of the other videos I’ve watched, Serling can be irascible and prickly with some of the questions… which is interesting, because he seems remarkably self-aware that he is being irascible. Perhaps the most poignant aspects of this self-awareness is when they discuss his addiction to smoking, which he knew was not good for his health.

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Go Boldly, Any Way You Can

I’m working on some more writing this week, so it felt like time to share this:

In my own series, Rogue Tyger, the characters refer to an “FTL drive,” but they also talk about “jumps” so you can deduce that ships in the ‘Tygerverse’ use a form of jump drive. Visually, it’s probably best been represented with the recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, but a major inspiration for how the drive works and the variations between commercial and military versions of FTL drives came from Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep.

One of the reasons I went this direction is because a ship’s ability to “jump” or fold fit how I wanted ships to behave in stories. I didn’t want them to be “in hyperspace” or “at warp” for any long period of time. The distance a ship could jump and the speed at which it could re-jump also had dramatic applications I liked — as well as skilled pilots being able to execute pinpoint jumps the fraction of a light-minute versus rookie pilots.

What sort of propulsion systems do you most like (or dislike) in science fiction?

Comparing Galactic Empires

Continuing from the musings about the soon-to-be Foundation TV series, I thought about the different series that have massive, interstellar empires… and it turns out I’m not alone.

Quinn (who’s videos you should check out if you want to know waaaay more about Dune before that film adaptation comes out later this year) does some comparisons of three literary biggies:

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How Might They Update the Foundation of Foundation?

Just a little over a year ago I posted the teaser trailer for Foundation, a TV series adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s highly influential work of the rise and fall of galactic civilizations.

Well, we’ve got a new trailer and a premiere of September, so gird your space opera loins!

Already, I’ve seen chatter on the interwebs about some apparent departures from the books, some of which is also hinted at in the io9 piece on the trailer. However, as much as I enjoy the books, the initial ones are episodic to an anthological degree. After the initial part with Hari Seldon, the man who predict’s the empire’s collapse, we are thrust forward decades and centuries to a new generation of characters grappling with Seldon’s predictions and grand beats of the aforementioned galactic waxing and waning.

It’s all engaging, because Asimov enjoys cunning characters and a good plot twist, but it does mean we don’t get to grow to love the characters like we would in other ongoing novel series.

And yet, part of the whole magic of the Foundation series is seeing that centuries-long storyline unfold.

So I’m very keen to see how they approach the adaptation to make it engaging in the TV medium while being thought-provoing as it was in the books.

Wait! That Wasn’t the Last Starfighter After All

I’m pretty sure every film-loving kid grows up watches a series of thoroughly-enjoyable-yet-not-mind-blowing movies from their era that may not make all the “classics” lists, but age okay and hold onto that “that was solidly entertaining” air.

Some of this premise comes from watching many a film that my dad enjoyed growing up. And of course he treated us to the unequivocal classics of cinema both foreign and domestic, but he also made time to expose us to some other lesser known ones that, when he was our age, thought was a darn fine film.

Last month, I got to rewatch one of those films of my generation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed The Last Starfighter when we first saw it in theaters, even if it wasn’t going to edge out the Star Wars trilogy or Star Trek II in our sci-fi ardor (note to younger folks: yes, there was only one Star Wars trilogy at the time).

Rewatching it reminded me both of the fun performances by veteran actors Robert Preston and Dan O’Herlihy, Lance Guest diving into two roles as our hero and Beta, and –waitaminute, blink and you’ll miss Gul Dukat! Plus, there’s an overall fun sense of adventure with the film… and they clearly wanted a sequel.

Do we get to see multiple Gunstars in action this time?

So imagine my surprise that, not a few days after I watched it, there’s word that they’re working on doing a sequel. Not a reboot, but a follow-up.

While I’m sad we won’t have Centauri (at least his original human face), I’m up for it So go ahead Hollywood Recyclotron: give us some video game infused nostalgia.

Your Next Favorite SFF Sitcom?

With the release of WandaVision, we got to see a new genre mashup from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: superheros and sitcoms.

Certainly this isn’t the first time there’s been a mashup of superheroes and outright silliness (The Tick is the one that pops in my mind most concretely as it has had several TV incarnations). And the sitcom backdrops in WandaVision actually lay a foundation for some distinct non-comic plotlines (that’s the limit to how much I’ll spoil things).

However, it did get me thinking about other science fiction and fantasy treatments of sitcoms — and Leah Schnelbach over at Tor.com takes that same thinking and has a bunch of suggestions. I’m partial to Steam and SpaceNewsSpaceRadio myself, but what do you think?

(Personally, I’d also love to see an Ambush Bug animated series).

Let’s Talk about Capes

I’ve been kind of preoccupied with some minor things over the past couple weeks.

So let’s talk about matters of true importance: capes in Science Fiction. (Sorry, Edna Mode).

We’ve got the blueshift cape, now I want to see the redshift cape! #NerdHumor

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Foundational Science Fiction

One of my favorite aspects of Isaac Asimov’s science fiction is the worldbuilding and its never more apparent in his centuries-spanning Foundation series.

Indeed, the Galactic Empire and the many of the ensuing interstellar governments were ones I kept in mind while fashioning the Imperium for Rogue Tyger. I’m actually re-reading the series while working on new seasons of the show (it’s easily been over 20 years since I last read them).

So imagine the delight when I saw this teaser trailer for a “prestige” TV series adaptation due out next year? I know they’re likely going to make some noticeable changes to some of the characters and connective plot in order to keep a cinematic throughline, but I’m hopeful it will be a great mix of the clear production design combined with the themes that made the novels so engaging.

The Worst Derelict Spaceships to Board

I’ve mentioned science fiction tropes here before, back in 2016 and also this year.

Heck, I’ve even written a Jabberwocky Audio special that parodies the many tales of crews boarding derelict ships.

This is quite established, as the crew over at Generation Films knows well:

Warning, this will have spoilers for

  • The film Ad Astra
  • The TV series The Expanse
  • The video game Dead Space
  • The film Sunshine
  • The film Alien
  • The film Predators
  • The film Event Horizon
  • The film Pandorum

Science Fiction Tropes, Ranked (Barnes & Noble Edition)

I’ve posted about science fiction tropes before, but as we’re now deep into the Era of Social Distancing, at least some writing has got to happen, right?

So here’s another list ranking tropes via Ross Johnson for Barnes & Noble. I might quibble with the ranking of the top 5 (dystopian governments and time travel would be my 2 and 1 respectively), but everything on the list should give you a knowing nod or a smile.

And who doesn’t like space pirates?

A drop of water for your thoughts…