Sunday, June 30, 2013

30 June 2013

Jeri Taylor b. 1938 (Star Trek)

Ms. Taylor was a writer and producer on several Star Trek shows, including The Next Generation and Voyager. She is credited with inventing the Cardassians. (Note: NOT THE KARDASHIANS! She cannot be blamed for them in any way.)

Many happy returns to Ms. Taylor.

Movies released
Twilight Saga: Eclipse released, 2010
Spider-Man 2 released 30 June 2004

Prediction: By 2013, One in ten people is a believer. Eight of the other nine have given up religion as a bad job.

Predictor: James Blish in They Shall Have Stars, published 1956

Reality: Among readers of science fiction, these numbers might be correct. Among humans in general, it's close to the other way around.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Alternate Mondays belong to Popular Mechanics, promising us technological marvels and sometimes even getting them right.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

29 June 2013

Ray Harryhausen b. 1920 died 5/5/2013

Regular readers will know I wrote an appreciation of Harryhausen  when he died, but besides his work with stop-motion animation, he did a lot to improve the state of the art with moving mattes, which he used to have giants and little people interact. In Jason and the Argonauts, the most action packed scene of this kind is when Poseidon protects the Argo from being destroyed by crashing rocks, the ship sailing under the giant god's outstretched arm. For me, the most memorable scene is Jason visiting the gods on Mount Olympus, and the conversation between tiny Jason and the awe-inspiring goddess Hera, Honor Blackman filling out a titanic toga like nobody's business.

IBIMB, as the young people say.

Movies released
Ted released, 2012
Transformers: Dark of the Moon released, 2011
War of the Worlds released 2005

It could be argued that Ted is just a comedy, but I consider the fantasy element strong enough to place it in the genre category.

Prediction:1978: Traveling to the future, the time travelers endanger a mission to Mars.

Predictor: The Time Tunnel, aired in 1966

Reality: The show is part of the era when optimism for space travel was at its peak. NASA was sending people into space preparing for the moon landing. It was hard to foresee that the moon missions after Neil Armstrong's first step would feel like weaker and weaker sequels diluting the franchise.

Not unlike Shrek.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A prediction from James Blish about the future of religion.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, June 28, 2013

28 June 2013

Felicia Day b. 1979 (Buffy, The Guild, Dr. Horrible's SingAlong Blog, Supernatural)
John Cusack b. 1966 (2012)
Bruce Davison b. 1946 (X-Men, Star Trek)
Mel Brooks b. 1926 (Spaceballs)

While this blog does usually follow the Cute Girl = Picture Slot rule, I would like to add in a non-chauvinistic note that when it comes to careers, Ms. Day's best-known work is almost entirely in genre TV and web shows, while the other actors on the list have only a few sci-fi/fantasy credits and are better known for other work in their career.

Many happy returns to them all.

Movies released
Superman Returns released 2006  

It's only been seven years since the last attempt to make a Superman film, but this is not a speed record for re-boots. The time between the Ang Lee Hulk and the one starring Edward Norton was five years, and it was also five years between the last Tobey Maguire Spider-Man and the first starring Andrew Garfield.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Fashionable people with hot air balloon attached to their shoulders and pontoons on their feet will stroll on the water.

Predictor: Hildebrand's German Chocolate postcards, printed in 1900.

Reality: It's an interesting concept, but it would still be very hard to keep one's balance with this get-up. I certainly wouldn't wear my best Sunday clothes while trying to walk on water, even if I was trying to impress ladies in stylish hats.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another prediction of what would happen in the 1970s, predicted by an Irwin Allen TV show from the 1960s.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

27 June 2013

Matthew Lewis b. 1988 (Harry Potter)
Christian Kane b. 1974 (Angel)
J.J. Abrams b. 1966

I didn't read all the books, so I was happily surprised by the awesomeness of Neville Longbottom in the last movie.

Movies released
WALL-E released, 2008

Prediction:2001: Frank Poole is the first man to reach the surface of Saturn.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in 2001: A Space Odyssey 

Reality: Poole doesn't enjoy it much, being dead and all.

Yet again, sci-fi loves them some space travel, but humans don't agree all that much.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's German chocolate postcard time again. Yummy!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

26 June 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction:Vegetables Grown by Electricity. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer. In cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster, and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and develop unusually early.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in 1900, published in The Ladies' Home Journal

Reality: It can be done, but it's expensive. For crops with average rates of return, it's often not profitable, but for something like marijuana it makes sense.

Or so I have been told. No first hand info.  NSA, please don't put me on any list, it's just a waste of resources.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Arthur C. Clarke is talking about space travel again. Odds are he won't be right.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

25 June 2013

Ray Stevenson b. 1964 (Thor, Punisher: War Zone, The Book of Eli)
Ricky Gervais b. 1961 (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian)
George Orwell b. 1903 died 1/21/1950

No disrespect to the living, but the two actors whose birthdays are celebrated today aren't known primarily for their genre work and Orwell is a name that looks like it will last a very long time.

There is also the First Rule of Blogging, a.k.a You Aren't The Boss of Me! Along side Joseph Conrad and Patrick O'Brian, old Eric Blair is one of my very favorite writers of the 20th Century in any genre.

Movies released
Rollerball released, 1975

Prediction: In 2018, rollerball star Jonathan E. is pressured to retire from the game.

Predictor: Rollerball, released 25 June 1975

Reality: The idea of the movie was that by 2018, corporations would rule the world and athletic competitions would become more violent.

So the prediction gets partial credit.

The sport of rollerball was supposed to be de-humanizing and the players would not individually rise above the popularity of the game itself.

That's crazy talk. Athletes will always humanize the activity in which they take part.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Is tomorrow Wednesday already? That means... John Elfreth Watkins!  Yay!

He's talking about vegetables again. Hmm, not so yay?

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Never to be forgotten:
Richard Matheson 1926-2013

Richard Matheson was born on February 20, 1926, the same year the magazine Amazing Stories was first published. It's nearly meaningless to call the science fiction writers of the fifties and sixties "prolific", because if they weren't prolific, they either starved or were forgotten and found other work.

Matheson wrote sixteen scripts for the original Twilight Zone and one of the segments for Twilight Zone: The Movie. He wrote an episode of the original Star Trek, "The Enemy Within".  He wrote scripts for non-genre TV shows like Combat! and Have Gun, Will Travel, still one of my favorite titles for a TV series ever.

He wrote the short story and the screenplay for a 1971 ABC Movie of the Week titled Duel starring Dennis Weaver. It was the first big break for a kid director named Steven Spielberg. Spielberg returned the favor later, hiring Matheson to write for several of his productions, including the Amazing Stories TV anthology.

You might think I would end this eulogy with his work The Incredible Shrinking Man as a shout out to My People and Our Agenda. But any fair observer would say that his 1954 novel I Am Legend is the starting point for the genre of stories now called Zombie Apocalypse and in 2013, this is his great addition to the field.

Richard Matheson gave us thrills and chills and he made us think. You cannot ask more from a writer of science fiction and fantasy.

Richard Matheson died on Sunday, 23 June 2013. May he never be forgotten.

24 June 2013

Iain Glen b. 1961 (Resident Evil, Game of Thrones, Lara Croft)
Peter Weller b. 1947 (RoboCop, Star Trek Into Darkness, Odyssey 5, Buckaroo Banzai)

I screwed up last week and said Mr. Glen's birthday was the 14th instead of the 24th. That will be correctly noted next year. Since I gave him the Picture Slot, this time on his correct birthday I give the Picture Slot to his fellow thespian Peter Weller.

Many happy returns to both gentlemen.

Movies released

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen released, 2009

In the year 2000!

Prediction: By 2000, most human genes will be mapped.

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, published in 1982

Reality: This one is pretty good. The preliminary report for the Human Genome Project was in 2000 and the complete report was in 2003. According to Wikipedia, there is about 8% of the total genome remains unmapped, but the prediction just says "most", so this fact does not change the basic correctness of the prediction. One odd part of the prediction said that there are about 100,000 genes in the code for humans, but the HGP says the number is in the 20,000 to 25,000 range. I found this article online that has multiple estimates, where the HGP number is the low estimate and the highest now stands between 65,000 and 70,000. It agrees that the old estimate was 100,000, which is the number the Almanac used. Now I'm just a mathematician, but it seems to me that if you've mapped the genome, you should not still have estimates floating around that disagree by a factor of three.

Very odd.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our usual weekly routine is broken up by a prediction from a movie. What's your favorite moment from the illustrious career of Jonathan E.?

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

23 June 2013

Melissa Rauch b. 1980 (True Blood, The Big Bang Theory)
Joss Whedon b. 1964 (Whedonverse... d'uh!)
Woody Harrelson b. 1961 (The Hunger Games)
Frances McDormand b. 1957 (Transformers, Darkman)

The Picture Slot = Cute Girl rule should mean either Ms. Rauch or Ms. McDormand should be smiling at us here, and I give the nod to Ms. Rauch not because she is cuter (arguable) or younger (undeniable), but because her career is associated with two genre TV shows while Ms. McDormand's longer and very successful career is not defined by her few roles in sci-fi films.

I have a soft spot for the ginger headed killer of so many favorite characters, but Joss turns 49 this year. He will certainly get the Picture Slot next year on his 50th. Many happy returns to everyone on this list.


Prediction: "Long before the next century dawns, systematic reforestation and the scientific management of natural resources will have made an end of all devastating droughts, forest fires, and floods. The universal utilization of water power and its long-distance transmission will supply every household with cheap power and will dispense with the necessity of burning fuel. The struggle for existence being lessened, there should be development along ideal rather than material lines."

Predictor: Nikola Tesla in the Feb. 9, 1935 issue of Liberty magazine

Reality: First things first. The quote is from 1935 and the picture from 1890. I should have used a picture of a much older Tesla, but this is my favorite.

A lot of the predictions he makes in this article are about 2035, so they are too far in the future for the rules of this blog. Fortunately, this one specifically talks about what things should look like around the end of the 20th Century. He was certainly an optimist, but "the scientific management of natural resources" turned out to be a trickier problem than what we first imagined. Cutting down of old growth made fires worse when they came, and floods and droughts are still with us, with the distinct possibility that climate change will make them worse instead of better in the future. Water power is used, but the environment can't be sustained if we dam every river, and of course we are still burning fossil fuels.

As for development along ideal instead of material lines, it turns out the rich still want to get richer. Who knew?

So do I end with a kind word for Our Pal Nikola™? Oh, absolutely.

Alternating current? Great idea, buddy.

And as a young man, you could really rock the porn-stache.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Alternate Mondays belong to OMNI Future Almanac. I'm not sure what it will be about, because I can open the book to nearly any page and get a prediction with a date attached. It's one of my favorite parts of this little hobby.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

22 June 2013

Tim Russ b. 1956 (Star Trek)
Octavia E. Butler b. 1947 died 2/24/2006 (won 2000 Nebula for Parable of the Talents)
Kris Kristofferson b. 1936 (Blade, Planet of the Apes, Millennium)

I put Ms. Butler's picture up today because I sometimes favor actors over writers, though in my defense there are a lot more actors now famous for their work in genre films than there are writers. It's also important to note there is some diversity in the field even though it tends towards being both overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male.

Prediction: In 1999, an Aryan resistance army in the United States destroys the government and starts a successful worldwide race war, destroying most of Africa and half of Asia.

Predictor: William Luther Pierce, writing under the pseudonym Andrew McDonald

Reality: I struggled for several weeks deciding whether I would include The Turner Diaries on this blog. Given the Prime Directive of the blog, which is to publish predictions with dates from fiction and essays, it obviously qualifies. But in general, I like to keep the tone light, and this isn't light. It's an invitation to race war and some unbalanced people take it seriously today and as others taken it seriously in the past, most notably the murderous American terrorist Timothy McVeigh. Here are the arguments against bringing this up as well as the arguments for, with the "pro" arguments eventually winning the day.

Arguments against publishing
1. I don't want to give this crap any more oxygen. It doesn't deserve to be part of a mainstream argument, just a favorite book of people filled with hatred and noted by people who want to keep track of the hatred.

2. I never promised this would be an exhaustive reference source. I'm just one guy, though I happily get help from readers. There will be plenty of predictions with dates that I miss.

Arguments in favor of publishing
1. The slippery slope that is the scumbag Larry Niven. I couldn't ignore Larry Niven when starting this blog. He's a major writer in the field and he loved putting dates in his books, just like Heinlein and Clarke and Wells. But Niven is also a bigot with murderous revenge fantasies. Asked what he foresaw for an entire millennium, his best guess was the destruction of Mecca by 2025, because he is stupid enough to think someone with power will consider this a good idea. If I publish the stupid bigot Niven, what is my objection to publishing other stupid bigots?

2. Pierce's place in the history of speculative fiction. There are a lot of links to more mainstream speculative fiction in The Turner Diaries. Nearly a century earlier, a writer named Ignatius Donnelly wrote an anti-Semitic novel called Caesar's Column about a future dystopia and Donnelly likewise chose to write under a pen name. Pierce claims Jack London's The Iron Heel as one of his influences, a book that also influenced H.G. Wells and George Orwell, significantly better and more important authors. And last though likely least, Pierce started off with his predictions in the 1980s and changed the dates in a later edition published after those dates had passed, which is what Steven King did when he released the uncut version of The Stand.

3. Getting the chance to say that Pierce's was wrong. So far, the predictions of an all-out race war in the United States have not come to pass. It's certainly worrisome to see how massively armed American society is and how many of the armed share the racist and violent tendencies of Pierce. But even as allegedly mainstream thought is pushed farther to the right by ignorant elected officials and so-called celebrities like Donald Trump and Pat Robertson, no one can get up in public and say "Timothy McVeigh got a raw deal."

If The Turner Diaries was a call to action, McVeigh was its most visible proponent. Now, eighteen years after he killed 168 people and twelve years after he was executed, McVeigh's reputation suffers a worse fate than merely being reviled. He is in equal parts reviled and forgotten. The farther away you live from Oklahoma City, the less reason you have for remembering that Timothy McVeigh was ever alive.

Here endeth the lesson.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Here's a name that hasn't been on this blog before. Nikola Tesla. Want to know what this esteemed scientist had to say about the 21st Century?

The join us tomorrow... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, June 21, 2013

21 June 2013

Movies released
Minority Report released, 2002

I know it's Tom Cruise, but it's also Steven Speilberg and Philip K. Dick, so I don't that bad saying I actually liked Minority Report, though it did feel like it could have ended thirty minutes earlier than it did. The world looked both futuristic and a little run down, which adds to the realism.

The action is supposed to take place in 2054, which is too far into the future for me to consider it to be verifiable or falsifiable.
In the year 2000!

Prediction: People in diving suits will ride giant mutant sea horses for entertainment.

Predictor: French postcards published in 1900

Reality: In a recent comment thread, I said that John Elfreth Watkins was good but tended to be on the cautious side, and his record is better than the later sci-fi writers who are making predictions decades later about 2000 because of his caution and not being enamored of space travel like Clarke, Niven and Heinlein. Space travel didn't exist and did not even look like an option in 1900, and Watkins was not a fiction writer who enjoyed flights of fancy.

I could compare him to the French and German postcards, who are making predictions from 1900 about 2000.

Watkins whips them like red-headed stepchildren.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We get a look at a racist's future wet dream.

No, I'm not talking about Paula Deen on a sugar and butter rush.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

20 June 2013

Josh Lucas b. 1971 (Hulk - Ang Lee version)
Robert Rodriguez b. 1968 (Spy Kids, Sharkboy and Lavagirl)

No pretty girl today, so the picture slot belongs to Mr. Rodriguez because he has done more work in the genre. Mr. Lucas has been in a lot of movies and TV shows, but the only sci-fi work was as Major Talbot in the least successful of the Hulk films. By an odd coincidence, that movie was released on his 32nd birthday.

Many happy returns to both men.

Movies released
Hulk (Ang Lee version) released 2003

Prediction: Gambling was ruthlessly eradicated under the Air Dictatorship (2010-2030) and has never returned.

Predictor: H.G. Wells in The Shape of Things to Come, published 1933

 Reality: This falls under the category of predictions that are more like scolds, something considered sinful not being part of a more glorious future to come. Wells takes the very long view in this book, his future history stretching into the 22nd Century, which is why the prediction is given in the past tense.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another French postcard from the early 1900s predicting life in the year 2000!
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

19 June 2013

Paul Dano b. 1984 (Looper, Cowboys and Aliens)
Aidan Turner b. 1983 (Kili in The Hobbit)
Zoe Saldana b. 1978 (Avatar, Star Trek)

Is there any chance Mr. Dano or Mr. Turner will get a shot at the Picture Slot the next time June 19th rolls around?

No. Not one chance in Hell. Many happy returns of the day to all three of these actors.


Movies released
Jason and the Argonauts released, 1963

Fifty years ago, I saw this movie on the big screen at the Grand Lake theater in Oakland, California. It is still one of the most memorable movie going experiences of my life. By today's special effects standards, it doesn't look real, but to my mind that is actually the point. It looks magical. Lots of scenes of giant gods and puny mortals, battles with a giant bronze statue, the skeleton army and several other magical beasts.

Great pacing, great visuals and wonderful music by Bernard Herrmann are just a few of the treats in this movie. Fifty years ago, this was a movie "made for kids" and Serious Film People wouldn't even consider discussing it as they would A Serious Film.

Simply put, they are wrong. Jason and the Argonauts was an important step forward in the history of cinema and still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Here's to Ray Harryhausen, who died earlier this year. He will never be forgotten.

In the year 2000!

Prediction:Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking. Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where they will be washed. Such wholesale cookery will be done in electric laboratories rather than in kitchens. These laboratories will be equipped with electric stoves, and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders, egg-beaters, stirrers, shakers, parers, meat-choppers, meat-saws, potato-mashers, lemon-squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like. All such utensils will be washed in chemicals fatal to disease microbes. Having one’s own cook and purchasing one’s own food will be an extravagance.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in a 1900 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal

Reality: Watkins loses a point or two, but he gets a lot right as well. His love for pneumatic tubes can be compared to the Hard SF's love for space travel, but the basic idea of delivery food is exactly true and the size of the kitchens is at least somewhat true. Having a cook is an extravagance, purchasing one's own food isn't. You can't eat out every night.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's H.G. Wells' turn at bat tomorrow, predicting the future of gambling.

I've got five bucks that says he's wrong. (Add General Ackbar's favorite line here.)

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

18 June 2013

Roger Ebert b. 1942 died 4 April 2013

As I wrote when he died earlier this year, Mr. Ebert started his writing career with a self-published fanzine called Stymie and wrote several published science fiction stories.

Movies released
Toy Story 3 released, 2010 
Prediction: 1989: First manned mission to Pluto ends in disaster, both crew members commit suicide by exposure.

Predictor: Larry Niven in Wait It Out, published in 1968

Reality: Dude, nobody but nobody is going to Pluto. It’s not even a planet anymore.

As I have written before, Hard SF writers love space exploration beyond all reason. They hoped the space race would be something like the era when men like Byrd and Scott and Amundsen made their names exploring the North and South poles, expeditions done much more for glory and scientific advancement rather than profit. The problem with that comparison is the difference in cost and time and danger. We are many technological advances away from making even a moon base make sense and interplanetary travel is many orders of magnitude tougher.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 
It's Wednesday and John Elfreth Watkins predicts the world of take-out food that will be enjoyed by the citizens of... the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

17 June 2013

Louis Leterrier b. 1973 (director Hulk re-boot)
Thomas Haden Church b. 1960 (Spider Man 3, John Carter)

Church is better known for work in comedies, notably Sideways, but like most actors nowadays, he does have work in genre films. Many happy returns to both gentlemen.

Prediction and predictor: In 1942, Popular Mechanics predicts that dials on phones will be replaced by push buttons.

Reality: The public gets the first view of push button phones at the 1963 Seattle World's Fair. I can't give an exact date for the death of the dial phone, but that's one extinct technology I do not miss at all.

Apology: Yesterday in the preview, I called the folks who made the Popular Mechanics future book "those liars", which is meant as a joke but is not a fair representation. They didn't lie about anything, they just got some stuff wrong and as we see here, they also got some stuff completely correct.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Larry Niven gets another turn at bat. I'm going to assume it's about outer space and it isn't even close to correct.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

16 June 2013

Sibel Kekilli b. 1980 (Game of Thrones)
Tom Lenk b. 1976 (Buffy, Angel)
John Cho b. 1972 (Star Trek reboot)
Bill Cobbs b. 1934 (Brother From Another Planet, Star Trek: Enterprise, Oz the Great and Powerful, Night at the Museum)

Prediction: 16 June 1990: a disease created by biological warfare experts escapes from a lab. Called the “superflu” by authorities and given the nickname “Captain Trips” by the public, within weeks it kills over 98% of the world’s population.

Predictor: Steven King in The Stand - complete and uncut, published in 1990

Reality: This is not so much a prediction as a plot device. For his many devoted fans, King puts the time period just a few weeks away from the publishing date, so they can get the creepy thrill of thinking the end is just around the corner. The dates in the earlier version are different and had already passed.

Two comments.

1. Damn, this is a big book. I mean, George R.R. Martin looks at this thing and says, "What, they couldn't find you an editor, either?"

2. Captain Trips. Would people give an extinction level plague a jokey nickname? I know it references Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and King is making a symbolic statement that the dead should be grateful they don't have to live through the crap storm that's coming after, but I just don't buy that people would be in the least bit lighthearted about this.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's time for another dip into the great technological paradise those liars at Popular Mechanics promised us.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

15 June 2013

Elizabeth Reaser b. 1975

Ms. Reaser is best known in genre films as Esme Cullen in the Twilight series.

Movies released

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer released,  2007
Batman Begins released 2005

When I was a kid, the Fantastic Four was the comic title I looked forward to the most each month. It's a damn shame the FF movies have been so crap. I kind of liked Batman Begins because Ra's Al-Ghul is Batman's most interesting villain, but unfortunately the next movie had to have The Joker in it and the series went downhill from there.

Prediction: In 1981, the Titan Station is established on the moon of Saturn of the same name. No further space exploration happens until 2013.

Predictor: James Blish, They Shall Have Stars, published 1956

Reality: I'm going to give Blish some props here, though clearly we haven't established any bases even on our own moon. Most sci-fi writers not just assume space exploration, but assume it's going to be zoom, zoom, zoom, bigger, better, faster every year. Blish sees that's it's going to be start then stop, moving at a weird jerky pace. He also takes some basic math into account and realizes that we need to increase human life expectancy for space travel outsideour solar system to make any sense at all.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from Stephen King. As you might expect, it does not bode well for the human race in general.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, June 14, 2013

14 June 2013

Daryl Sabara b. 1992 (Spy Kids, John Carter)
Iain Glen b. 1961 (Resident Evil, Game of Thrones, Lara Croft)

Glen is one of those good/lucky British actors who has just kept working and working. I first noticed him in a couple of underrated non-genre movies from 1990, Mountains of the Moon and Rosencrantz & Guilderstern Are Dead.

Many happy returns to both of these fine fellows.

Movies released
X-Men released, 2001

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Fashionable people will travel in wood and glass submarines to view the wonderful variety of marine creatures.

Predictor: Postcards produced by Hildebrands' German Chocolate in the early 1900s

Reality: Submarines tend to be metal for a reason. Being completely water tight is not optional.

Still, the German chocolate postcards are among the favorite things I found doing the research for this blog, a close second behind my man crush John Elfreth Watkins. I love how many of their predictions are about the wonderful things people will be able to do in their leisure time in the future.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The first prediction from the fiction of James Blish.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

13 June 2013

Kat Dennings b. 1986 (Thor)
Chris Evans b. 1981 (Captain America, Fantastic Four, Marvel's The Avengers)
Mark Correy b. 1965 (Engineer Alex on Enterprise)
Stellan SkarsgÄrd b. 1951 (Thor, Marvel's the Avengers)
Malcolm MacDowell b. 1943 (A Clockwork Orange, Heroes, Tank Girl, Star Trek: Generations)

Kat Dennings = Cute Girl = Picture Slot today. It's hard to find pictures of her that aren't "cleavage forward", which is a shame because she has a lovely face.

Not that I am opposed to cleavage. Oh, no, indeedy.

Other than that, today is very heavily weighted towards the Marvel Universe. Many happy returns to everyone on the list.

Movies released
The Incredible Hulk released, 2008

And yet again, more Marvel Universe. It probably deserves its own label, so fairness dictates a DC Universe label as well. I'll put both of them on my "to do" list.

Prediction: In 2010, we discover life on the Jovian moon Europa.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in 2010: odyssey two, published in 1982

Reality: We haven't gotten this kind of up close and personal on Europa yet, so we can't confirm or deny this. Once again, even with a lot of evidence to the contrary by 1982, sci-fi writers like Clarke are still certain space exploration is going to be as interesting to governments as it is to fanboys.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Because of pre-emptions, it's been about a month since we saw a German chocolate postcard. That oversight will be rectified tomorrow.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

12 June 2013

Prediction: 12 June 1983: An atmospheric disturbance captures the small commercial spacecraft Spindrift when coming back from low earth orbit on a trip to London.

Predictor: Land of the Giants, debuted 1968

Reality: All four of the Irwin Allen sci-fi shows - Lost In Space, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel and Voayage to the Bottom of the Sea - were supposed to take place in the 20th Century. I will admit that I was only a regular viewer of Land of the Giants. The reason for this less than optimal use of my time can be found through this link to page on my first blog.

Colour me disappointed.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another prediction from Arthur C. Clarke. There's only a few left from him and almost all about about space exploration. It's no secret he was keen on space exploration.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

11 June 2013

Shia LeBeouf b. 1986
Peter Dinklage b. 1969

This year, the picture slot goes to Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Will I play fair and go with a picture of Mr. LeBeouf next year?

Aw, hellz no, as we say in Oakland. Unless research finds a really cute girl who shares a birthday with these two worthies, next June 11 will be a different picture of Tyrion.

Many happy returns to both.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: By the end of this century mankind will have explored this solar system, and the first ship intended to reach the nearest star will be a-building.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in his set of predictions from 1950

Reality: I've said this before, it will be said again. You will have to pry the idea of interstellar space travel from the cold, dead hands of the Hard SF crowd.

Hard SF was supposed to take real science into account. But here's some real science. We can't go faster than the speed of light. Getting to even a measurable fraction of the speed of light would mean a ship that is hard to steer or slow down and needs some kind of infallible protection from collision with even tiny objects. Solve all those problems and it still takes at least years to get to the nearest star - probably more like centuries - with no promise that there is anything of value there.

Hey! Ghost of Ridiculous Bob! Is that hard science easy enough for ya?

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our regularly scheduled Wednesday programming is interrupted by an exact date. June 12, 1983, an exciting prediction from the mind of Irwin Allen!

 Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, June 10, 2013

10 June 2013

Andrew Niccol b. 1964

Mr. Niccol's best known work in genre is as writer and director of Gattaca, S1m0ne and In Time. My favorite work of his is probably his screenplay from The Truman Show, not really sci-fi or fantasy exactly but a very interesting alternate reality.

Many happy returns of the day to Mr. Niccol.

parody logo by wolfehpants
In the year 2000!

Predictor: The World Wildlife Fund in the pages of the OMNI Future Almanac

Predictions and reality: The species most likely to be extinct by 2000 (and the status in 2013 according to Wikipedia, worst cases to best cases top to bottom)

Kauai o'o
Marianas mallard

Was extinct in the wild, now re-introduced
California condor
Red wolf

Critically endangered, possibly extinct
Imperial woodpecker

Critically endangered
Madagascar sea eagle
Iriomote cat
Javan Rhinoceros (only one population in the wild)
Central African mountain gorilla
Wild Bactrian camel
Mediterranean monk seal
Japanese crested ibis
Mauritius parakeet
Chatham Island black robin
Mauritius kestrel
Indus dolphin
Mariana flying fox a.k.a. Mariana fruit bat
Giant panda

Not threatened

Least concern
grey whale

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

The return of Ridiculous Bob. It's been too long since we've seen the Sofa Cover/Sports Coat That Walks Like A Man™!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

9 June 2013

Natalie Portman b. 1981 (Star Wars, V for Vendetta, Mars Attacks)
Johnny Depp b. 1963 (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, many Tim Burton films)
David Koepp b. 1963 (Screenwriter, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds)

Picture slot = Cute Girl invoked. This of course is from V for Vendetta, with Portman in possibly the least glamorous role of her career. Doesn't really matter, she's still very cute.

Movies released
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier released, 1989

It is universally acknowledged that odd numbered Star Trek movies suck and Five is a good pick for the suckiest. Writer/director William Shatner may deserve some credit for this.

But I wanted to acknowledge it because I was at a showing when I heard the best line from an audience member not on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I see it with my brother, not on opening night. A much more serious fan friend saw it earlier and he told me not to expect much. Spoilers to follow.

(Dude, the movie's 24 years old. If you haven't seen it, it's on you, not me.)

The ship is hijacked by someone who wants to find God. They find God behind a weird barrier in space. God wants to get through the barrier, so He proposes merging with the Enterprise to do this. Kirk asks the reasonable question: If you're God, why do you need to merge with a starship to do this?

God shoots lightning bolts out of his eyes and singes Kirk something fierce, but doesn't actually kill him. (He's Kirk, for pity's sake. He eats all powerful beings for breakfast.)

So, sitting a few rows in front of my brother and me are two stoners. One of these young gentlemen, doing an unintentional but flawless Keanu Reeves impression, turns to his friend and says,

"Dude. God's an ASS-hole."

And... scene.

Prediction: 1978: aliens are draining the oxygen from a small New England town.

Predictor: The Time Tunnel (1967)

Reality: The show went into the far future a few times, but both the episodes when they are in the near future are set in 1978. That makes aliens and space travel believable.

Wait... I just used the word "believable" when describing an Irwin Allen TV show.

My bad.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

OMNI Future Almanac time once again, this time putting forward a list of soon to be extinct critters. Let's see how many are still around.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

8 June 2013

Colin Baker (6th Doctor) b. 1943
Kate Wilhelm b. 1928
(won 1977 Hugo for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang)

In the 20th Century, I proudly stated "Yes, I'm a nerd, but I never watched Doctor Who." If I ever flipped past a channel and saw a guy wearing this suit, could you blame me for not stopping?

I watched and enjoyed the first season of the 21st Century reboot with Christopher Eccleston, but I didn't last long into the David Tennant years, more from disappointment with the writing than disappointment with the acting.

In any case, happy birthday to Mr. Baker and Ms. Wilhelm and many happy returns of the day.

Movies released
Prometheus released, 2012  

Prediction: In 1988, the Rapture will take place.

Predictor: Hal Lindsey and C.C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet Earth, published 1970

Reality: If any science fiction fans are offended by the inclusion of the completely non-scientific fiction of Hal Lindsey, my only defense is that I'm a sucker for exact dates. Lindsey's original calculation was a biblical generation was 40 years and the countdown started from the 1948 creation of the modern state of Israel.

Of course, 1988 came and went and Lindsey, who is still alive by the way, stood by his story. Steven Sizer, a critic of Lindsay's, wrote this on his website that summarizes the work.
"By 1994, while persisting in his belief that Jesus meant this present generation, Lindsey had begun to prevaricate and lengthen a 'biblical generation' since Jesus had not returned by 1988 as he had confidently predicted. Based on his revised calculations Lindsey claimed Jesus would return some time between now and 2067."

2067. Hmm. If that had been his original date, I never would have printed it. If I was going that far, I'd get to talk about The Jetsons (2062) and the date of first contact on Star Trek (2063), which are both more fun than Lindsey and actually fit into the category of science fiction.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another future date from the mind of Irwin Allen. (Regular readers will know I use the phrase "the mind of Irwin Allen" loosely, as most of his dates and ideas seem to have been pulled out of another part of his anatomy.)

 Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, June 7, 2013

7 June 2013

Bill Hader b. 1978 (Custer in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian)
Karl Urban b. 1972 (Dredd, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings)
Tarik Ergin b. 1961 (Lt. Ayala on Star Trek: Voyager)
Liam Neeson b. 1952 (Clash of the Titans, Batman Begins, Darkman, Star Wars: The One That Must Never Be Named Again)

No pretty girl on the list, so the next tiebreaker is best known actor and I think Liam wins that fair and square. Many happy returns to all on the list.

Movies released
The Purge released 2013

Prediction: 7 June 2022: For the evening hours of June 7th and 8th, no crimes committed will be investigated or prosecuted.

Predictor: The Purge released 7 June 2013

Reality: This looks more like a horror movie than sci-fi, but it has an exact date in the foreseeable future, and that's what this blog is all about.

In terms of plot, it kinda reminds me of the Landru episode from the original Star Trek series. How this idea makes for a better society didn't make sense when I was a kid and doesn't make that much sense now.

Another quibble: not all ambulances have them, but when they do have a cross it's usually a red cross on a white background. The symbol on the poster does not signify "no emergency services". It really says "No Swiss allowed".

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date for the Rapture. (Spoiler alert: already passed and still a lot of people calling themselves Christians still hanging around.)

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

6 June 2013

Daniel Logan b. 1987 (Boba Fett in Episode II)
Adam Busch b. 1978 (Warren on Buffy)
Lexa Doig b.1973 (Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, V, Continuum)
Paul Giamatti b. 1967 (Planet of the Apes)
Jason Isaacs b. 1963 (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series)

Looking at this list of actors, Giamatti is easily the best known, but he almost never shows up in sci-fi or fantasy. (He'll play a Spider-Man villain The Rhino next year.) The role that means the most to fans of the series would likely be Boba Fett. As an aging fanboy, I have to say this is an obsession I do not understand to this day. But I gave the picture slot to Ms. Doig, because if you know her work, it's probably from a sci-fi TV show.

And she's purdy.

Prediction: From the war panic of 1942 to as late as 2020, the tendency of architecture was to crouch. Hardly any mass of buildings erected between 1945 and the end of the century lifts up its head and looks the world in the face.

Predictor: H.G. Wells, The Shape of Things to Come, published 1933

Reality: Wells isn't right about this, of course. There has been a continuing escalation in architecture and the contest to have the tallest building in the world is still in full force. But let's look at the actually clever reasons why he is wrong.

World War I from start to finish will be one hundred years in the past this decade. It's not part of the memory of the living anymore. It's easy to forget that it was unlike any war the world had ever seen before. Writing in 1933, it was impossible for Wells to forget it and he was certain more war was coming. He even got some of the combatants right, Germany vs. Poland and the United States vs. Japan.

So here he is writing this book, correctly foreseeing that more war was coming even though war between modern nation-states was not profitable or glorious or in anyone's long-term interests. Wells took the view that humans just don't learn, or at the very minimum, the lessons take lifetimes.

Well Mr. Wells, it took a while and way too many dead bodies and destroyed cities, but for the most part, we did learn. We've avoided big wars between major industrialized nations since the end of World War II. (Wells didn't see that the war would end so quickly or so decisively.) The U.S. and the Soviets kept pushing limits to see what the other side would allow, the Soviets mostly on land and the Americans mostly in the air with spy missions, but with a little luck and some sense on both sides, we have avoided having a war we can call World War III for about seventy years now.

Does this mean we are in the clear now? That's a prediction I wish I could make. Happily, people can learn. Sadly, people also forget.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A prediction from a movie that will be released tomorrow.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!