Saturday, August 31, 2013

31 August 2013

Marc Webb b. 1974 (Director, The Amazing Spider-Man)
Zack Ward b. 1970 (Transformers, Dollhouse)
Jack Thompson b. 1940 (Star Wars episode II: Attack of the Clones)
Richard Basehart b. 1914 died 17 September 1984 (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)

Many happy returns to the living on our list today. I gave the Picture Slot to the late Richard Basehart because Gypsy on Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a big crush on him.

Songs of the Future!

Toll the bell, pay the private eye
All's well, 20th Century dies.

Predictor: David Bowie, I Have Not Been to Oxford Town, from the album Outside, released 26 September 1995

Reality: The predictions are not really in the lyrics as much as they are in the liner notes. The premise is that many ritual murders will occur at the end of the 20th Century and art critics will be brought in, not to solve the crime but instead to decide whether or not the murder should be considered art.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Sundays belong to The Martian Chronicles for the next few months, and tomorrow the first men set foot on the Red Planet.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, August 30, 2013

30 August 2013

Cameron Diaz b. 1972 (Shrek, The Mask, The Green Hornet)
Michael Chiklis b. 1963 (Fantastic Four, No Ordinary Family)
Mark Strong b. 1963 (Kick-Ass, Stardust)
Frank Conniff b. 1958 (Mystery Science Theater 3000, Invader ZIM)

The predictable Picture Slot choice would be fabulous babe Cameron Diaz, but I decided to throw the change-up today and go with the actor/writer whose work I most admire, Frank Conniff, known to the true nerds as TV's Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also worked on Invader ZIM, one of my favorite cartoons of the 21st Century, right up there with The Venture Brothers.

Many happy returns of the day to everyone on the list.

Prediction: People will go on scenic rides in the country without ever leaving their homes

Predictor: French postcards printed between 1900 and 1910

Reality: This is comparable to the German chocolate postcard of an entire city block being moved by train. This is only a single house, so this is closer to the reality of the big mobile homes, though the wheels are ridiculously small. Also, I imagine having a fire going and smoke coming out of the chimney has to break some codes.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another Song of the Future, once again from David Bowie.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

29 August 2013

Carla Gugino b. 1971 (Spy Kids, Watchmen, Sin City)
Daniel Keyes b. 1927 (won 1967 Nebula for Flowers for Algernon)
Joel Schumacher b. 1939 (Batman Forever, Batman and Robin)
Richard Attenborough b. 1923 (Jurassic Park)

Today's Picture Slot = yes, I'm a heterosexual male.

I was surprised at how few films Joel Schumacher made, given his awful reputation. Almost all the scorn people pour on him is for nearly killing the Batman franchise. I would like to say to all those sci-fi fans currently on the fainting couch because Ben Affleck will be the next Batman, take a closer look at the writer and director of the next film, because it's those guys who will make it work or make it a mess. Blaming George Clooney and Val Kilmer for the awfulness of the 1990s Batman movies misses the point by a mile.

Many happy returns to everyone on the list.

Prediction: On the 29th of August, 1997, Skynet becomes self-aware at 2:14 am.

Predictor: Terminator 2, released 1991

Reality: In the movies, improvements in computer technology are almost never a good idea. Whether it's  Colossus: The Forbin Project or 2001: A Space Oddysey or Terminator, smarter computers usually spell trouble for somebody. As a counterexample, we have War Games. Personally, my favorite smart computer is Marvin the Paranoid Android from the Hitchhiker's Guide series, brilliantly competent and bored out of his mind.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another French postcard from early in the 20th Century predicting the year 2000.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

28 August 2013

J. August Richards b. 1973 (Angel)
Jack Black b. 1969 (King Kong)
Billy Boyd b. 1968 (Lord of the Rings)
Melissa Rosenberg b. 1962 (writer Twilight)
Brian Thompson b. 1959 (Star Trek, Buffy, The X-Files)
Vonda N. McIntyre b. 1948
(won 1979 Hugo and Nebula for Dreamsnake)
(won 1998 Nebula for The Moon and the Sun)
Jack Kirby b. 1917 died 6 February 1994
Jack Vance b. 1916 died 23 May 2013  (The Dying Earth)

Interesting mix today with four actors and four writers/creators. I chose Kirby for the Picture Slot because I grew up with Marvel Comics and in the 21st Century, there are a lot less science fiction fans who sneer at the comic books and do not want to have their genre associated with mere "entertainment for children".

Many happy returns of the day to the living.

Prediction: The teleautoscope. It will no doubt have some name equally barbarous. It will be an instrument for seeing by electricity. Whatever is before the transmitting teleautoscope will be visible before the receiving teleautoscope wirelessly en rapport with the former. Thus by telephone, by phonograph, and by teleautoscope, a wireless conversation will combine all the advantages of a personal interview and a written correspondence.

Predictor: T. Baron Russell from A Hundred Years Hence, published in 1905

Reality: Reading closely, Russell is talking about a TV phone more than he is about broadcast TV. In either case, this is pretty darned science fiction-y for a guy writing in 1905.

We will meet a lot of people from this era predicting the future who base wonderful future technology on telephones instead of radio. While Marconi had done his experiments by the time Russell is writing this, the big splash of practical public use of radio doesn't come about until after World War I.

Looking on day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from a movie, the start of everything going to hell.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Never to be forgotten: Gilbert Taylor 1914-2013

Gilbert Taylor, the cinematographer for the first Star Wars film, has died at the age of 99. You can read the New York Times obituary here.

If you accept the auteur theory of filmmaking, a cinematographer should just be an extension of the director. Why should we care about these underlings at all?

Hypothetical Question Asker, so nice to hear from you! You might notice that the word "auteur" is French, as is the theory. This is a perfectly good reason to ignore it.

All kidding aside, sometimes the underlings are giants upon whose shoulders the auteurs stand.

According to Taylor, George Lucas avoided all meetings with him, so he made all the decisions about camera angles and lenses and such. To do so, Taylor slogged through the remarkably long script and made some key decisions which still stand out to this day.

In a simple sentence, the look can be described as this:"Outer space should be in focus."

That might seem a very simple concept, but the cinematographer's art is nothing like simple.

Case in point: Taylor was considered a genius of black and white. Besides Star Wars, which he did when he was in his sixties, he did Dr. Strangelove when he was 49, which in Oakland we call "a grown-ass man". Kubrick decided to make this in black and white when color was a no-brainer decision for any director who couldn't make demands. It was Taylor who decided on the look, which often resembles hand held documentary footage, most notably in the battles scenes and on board the plane. But we also get the great low angles in the war room, which symbolize events larger than men in some scenes, the unstoppable craziness of Sterling Hayden in several scenes, and the delicious va-va-voominess of General Buck Turgidson's personal secretary in Delores Reed's single scene.

Here is to Gilbert Taylor, a god among cinematographers who is remembered here because of his indispensable contribution to science fiction film making, also remembered for other great work outside the genre.

Best wishes to his family and friends,from a fan. He will never be forgotten.

27 August 2013

Alexa Vega b. 1988 (Spy Kids)
Peter Stormare b. 1953 (Armageddon, Minority Report)
Paul Rubens b. 1952 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie)
Barbara Bach b. 1947 (Caveman)

Besides being one of the Cute Girls on the list, Ms. Vega earns the Picture Slot over the other actors on the list because Spy Kids is a defining role for her, while the other actors are better known for non-genre work, Stormare in Fargo, Rubens as Pee-Wee Herman and Bach as a Bond girl.

Many happy returns to all.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: A major objective of applied physics will be to control gravity

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in his 1950 set of predictions for the future

Reality: Some of Einstein's ideas kinda sorta became part of popular culture, but his view of gravity and the conclusions that should be drawn from it haven't quite sunk into consciousness of the general public. (Objects warp spacetime locally, the more massive the object, the greater the warp.)

Getting into outer space and colonizing it are major concepts in science fiction and even actual scientists like Stephen Hawking and Neil DeGrasse Tyson have bought into the idea that outer space is our future. If we do achieve it, it won't be by "taming" gravity. Gravity is a core concept of the universe and a hell of a lot bigger than we are.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Because progress hadn't quite reached the dizzying speeds of the mid 20th Century, futurists from the early 20th Century tend to be more sensible and get more stuff right that their later counterparts. We will see a fine example of this in another prediction about the 21st Century from 1905 by T. Baron Russell.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, August 26, 2013

26 August 2013

Chris Pine b. 1980 (Star Trek re-boot)
Yvette Vickers b. 1928 died 2010 (Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, Attack of the Giant Leeches)

Ms. Vickers gets the Picture Slot not only for being The Cute Girl but also for having a more compelling bio that the new Captain Kirk. She was a starlet in Hollywood, she posed for Playboy in 1959, she worked steadily until about 1963. Her last claim to fame is that her body was found mummified in her home in 2011 and it was assumed from the state of decomposition that she might have been there a year before it was found.

Many happy returns to Mr. Pine at least.


Prediction: A nuclear powered blimp to advertise the safe uses of atomic energy

Predictor: Mechanix Illustrated, published March 1956

Reality: Using the quote from last week, nuclear energy is safe unless you do something monumentally stupid. A nuclear blimp is monumentally stupid.

Problem #1: It would have to be huge. Dirigibles are lighter than air because of counterbalance and you would need a massive amount of counterbalancing helium to make up for a fully shielded nuclear reactor. It's hard to know how far away the ship below is supposed to be, but making the airship as big as a battleship is probably about right.

Problem #2: High winds. Blimps aren't as weather dependent as old sailing ships used to be, but even keeping something as big as this tethered to the ground in a serious wind storm would be a very risky proposition. The six appendages at the bottom look like pontoons, so if water landings are intended, add "choppy seas" as a related co-problem.

Problem #3: Public relations. The public was nervous about nukes, which were definitely "new fangled" and reeked of Progress! The scientists knew what was best for us and would take us into the bold new future, kicking and screaming if need be. Link this idea to dirigibles, whose most famous public moment was the 1937 crash of the Hindenburg.

These are three very good answers to the question "Why don't we build an Atoms for Peace dirigible?"

Note: this is yet another example of nuclear powered transportation from an article on that was suggested by regular reader Zombie Rotten McDonald, and so I give thanks to him.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Robert A. Heinlein with a scientific prediction, though he wasn't actually a scientist.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

25 August 2013

Blake Lively b. 1987 (Green Lantern)
Alexander Skarsgård b. 1976 (True Blood, Battleship)
Tim Burton b. 1958 (Beetlejuice, Alice in Wonderland, Planet of the Apes)
Tom Skerritt b. 1933 (Alien)
Sean Connery b. 1930 (Zardoz, Outland, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Michael Rennie b. 1909 died 10 June 1971 (The Day the Earth Stood Still)

Yet another all Hollywood list of birthdays today. For me, the biggest surprise is that Tom Skerritt is only three years younger than Sean Connery and just turned 80(!). By any reasonable yardstick, Ms. Lively's career is the shortest on the list and has the least to do with science fiction or fantasy but... she's purdy.

It also gives me a chance to repeat something I tweeted yesterday that is somewhat on topic.

"I don't remember the Internet pissing itself when Ryan Reynolds was announced as Green Lantern, because THAT would have been useful."

Many happy returns of the day for the living.

Prediction: In January 1999, a rocket takes off from Ohio on the way to Mars. The heat from the blast melts the snow and icicles all over town and the locals call it "rocket summer".

Predictor: Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, a collection of short stories published in 1950

Reality: Rockets produce a heat blast, but it is contained in a relatively small area and dissipates quickly as the rocket climbs. As we know from bitter experience, the heat blast of take-off was not enough to warm up the O-rings on the rocket carrying the space shuttle Challenger. At low temperatures, the rings were brittle instead of flexible and failed catastrophically.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Let's get another prediction about nuclear powered vehicles, because that can't possibly screw up.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

24 August 2013

Rupert Grint b. 1988 (Harry Potter)
Jennifer Lien b. 1974 (Star Trek: Voyager)
Barret Oliver b. 1973 (The Neverending Story, Cocoon, D.A.R.Y.L, The Twilight Zone)
Stephen Fry b. 1957 (V for Vendetta, Alice in Wonderland)
Orson Scott Card b. 1951
(won 1986 Hugo and Nebula for Ender’s Game)
(won 1987 Hugo and Nebula for Speaker for the Dead)
Kenny Baker b. 1934 (Star Wars)
William Morgan Sheppard b. 1932 (Star Trek, Babylon 5)

A lot of birthdays today and more than enough controversy. Stephen Fry has only a few science fiction and fantasy credits in his long career, but he is known for being openly gay and an avowed atheist. Fry is one of several celebrities now raising awareness of the legal plight of gays and transgender people under Vladimir Putin's rule in Russia.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Orson Scott Card, whose entire writing career is in science fiction and fantasy. He openly embraces the hatred of homosexuals that is a tenet of his Mormon faith and just as his best known work is being turned into a major motion picture, wrote a short paranoid fantasy deeply popular with right wing shitheads that Obama is going to turn urban street gangs into a national police force.

For the picture slot, Ron Weasley or R2-D2 would have been completely understandable choices or I could have gone with The Cute Girl and had a picture of Jennifer Lien in character from Voyager. Instead, I chose the child actor Barret Oliver, a kid who quit the business not long after puberty hit. Almost all of his best known work was in science fiction or fantasy from the 1980s.

Many happy returns to almost all of our birthday boys and girls.


In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Dresses of glass and aluminum, men clothed to look like a cross between Prince Valiant and Batman and a British narrator who knows his job is to make sure the copy is dripping with homoerotic tension.

Predictor: A Pathe newsreel from 1939

Reality: The reality is obvious. The future is fabulous!

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

For the next few months, Sundays will belong chapter by chapter to Ray Bradbury's 1945 classic The Martian Chronicles.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, August 23, 2013

23 August 2013

Ray Park b. 1974 (X-Men, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Heroes)
Aaron Douglas b. 1971 (Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, I, Robot)
Barbara Eden b. 1931 (I Dream of Jeannie, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao)

Purists may complain that I Dream of Jeannie and even The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao have no place on a science fiction blog.

Personally, I hope purists like that will not notice, still too upset with yesterday's news that Ben Affleck will be Batman.

Many happy returns of the day to all our actors.

Prediction: August 23, 2000: A massive earthquake hits Southern California, turning an area from Malibu to Anaheim into an island

Predictor: Escape From L.A. released 8/9/1996

Reality: The original Escape From New York put the action sixteen years in the future, released in 1981 about the hellish days to come in 1997. This 1996 puts the bleak cityscape seventeen years in the future, but the prediction of a massive earthquake only four years forward. And of course, you need some disaster to turn L.A. into an island, or escape is not a difficult feat requiring the hiring of Snake Plissken.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

What will we be wearing in the year 2000! Bold designers from 1939 show us the way.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

22 August 2013

Richard Armitage b. 1971 (The Hobbit)
Kristen Wiig b. 1973 (Paul)
Adewale Akimmuoye-Agbaje b. 1967 (Lost, G.I. Joe, The Mummy)
Ty Burrell b. 1967 (Hulk reboot)
Colm Feore b. 1958 (Chronicles of Riddick, Thor, Battlestar Galactica)
Mark Williams b. 1959 (Harry Potter)
Honor Blackman b. 1925 (Jason and the Argonauts)
Ray Bradbury b. 1920 died 6/5/2012

My natural inclination for the Picture Slot would be Honor Blackman as Hera and I certainly might go that way next time the 22nd of August rolls around, but this year I put in the picture of the most important person on this list as far as the genre of science fiction goes, and that is Ray Bradbury. His book The Martian Chronicles is going to be a regular source of material on the blog very soon. Every chapter but one of this book first published in 1945 has as its title a month, a year and a phrase, such as the first chapter January 1999: Rocket Summer. The last three take place in 2026, a little too far in the future for this blog, but the rest are between 1999 and 2005, so they work perfectly.

Of course, we didn't start sending people to Mars in 1999, so the "reality" part of each prediction could just read "Well... no." But I like Ray Bradbury more than that, so I'll make a little more effort. Bradbury is the complete opposite of "hard science fiction" and thought of himself more as a storyteller. I wasn't a big reader of science fiction when I was a kid, but my favorites back in the 1960s were Bradbury, Vonnegut and Frank Herbert.

Many happy returns to the living on our birthday list, and of course, when the birthday of an important person who is now dead rolls around, it's a good time to remember them as well.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Ray Bradbury, from a fan.

Prediction: 1990: The Bronx is a lawless No Man’s Land. An 18 year old heiress, disgusted by the methods used by her father to amass the fortune she will inherit, runs away to the Bronx, where she comes under the protection of Trash, the leader of a gang known as The Riders.

Predictor: 1990: The Bronx Warriors, released 22 August 1982

Reality: This Italian film should not be confused with the 1979 Walter Hill film The Warriors, which has now taken on cult status. It should also not be confused with a good movie in any way. The tagline in the poster is "The first to die were the lucky ones!"

In reality, the people who never saw it were the lucky ones.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet another prediction from a movie, this one giving an exact date for a catastrophic event.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

21 August 2013

Hayden Panettiere b. 1989 (Heroes)
Carrie-Anne Moss b. 1967 (The Matrix)
Kim Catrall b. 1956 (Star Trek)
Basil Poledouris b. 1945 died 8 November 2006 (Composer, Robo-Cop, Conan the Barbarian, Starship Troopers, Cherry 2000, The Twilight Zone (1980s re-boot))

Several excellent choices for Pretty Girl = Picture Slot today and as adorable as Hayden Panettiere is, I still have a soft spot for the original Matrix, blissfully forgetting how bad the sequels were for up to ten to fifteen seconds at a stretch.

Many happy returns of the day to the living.

Prediction: Naturally lifts (elevators)... will be everywhere in evidence. The plan of attaining the upper part of a small house by climbing, on every occasion, a sort of wooden hill, covered with carpet of questionable cleanliness, will of course have been abandoned : it is doubtful whether staircases will be built at all after the next two or three decades.

Predictor: T. Baron Russell in A Hundred Years Hence: The Expectations of an Optimist, published 1905

Reality: Umm... no. Elevators weren't brand spanking new in 1905, Elisha Otis having invented the safety elevator in 1852, but buildings were getting taller due to increased use of metal infrastructure. While elevators are common, they do break down on occasion, and I'm not sure I've ever been in a multi-story building that didn't have a flight of stairs. Regardless of Russell's worries about cleanliness, stairs are a reliable back-up system to technology that does screw up sometimes (see The Big Bang Theory for an example) and they have not faded into the past nor are they likely to any time in the future.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A prediction from a 1982 movie about the lawless hellhole that is The Bronx in 1990.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20 August 2013

Andrew Garfield b. 1983 (Spider-Man)
Ben Barnes b. 1981 (Narnia)
Moon Bloodgood b. 1975 (Terminator Salvation)
Amy Adams b. 1974 (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Man of Steel)
James Marsters b. 1962 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel)
Greg Bear b. 1951
(won 1995 Nebula for Moving Mars)
(won 2001 Nebula for Darwin’s Radio)
Sylvester McCoy (7th Doctor) b. 1943
Frank Herbert b. 1920 died 2/11/1986
(won 1966 Hugo for Dune)
H.P. Lovecraft b. 1890 died 15 March 1937

Quite often, the birthday list is all actors, but today there are three significant writers, and I have decided to use H.P. Lovecraft in the Picture Slot. Of course, Lovecraft is better known for a certain type of horror dealing with ancient powers instead of science fiction, but it's pretty remarkable when a person's name becomes an adjective, like Orwellian or Kafkaesque or Lovecraftian. Another thing these three 20th Century writers have in common is that all of them died before they were fifty.

Many happy returns to the living, and may the dead remain dead, their graves undisturbed by foolish mortals, their souls protected from the Old Ones.


Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein from Methuselah’s Children, started 1941, compiled and expanded into a novel 1958

Reality: Regular readers know that I have two Heinlein photos and I have labeled them Sensible Bob and Ridiculous Bob. The picture used today is the latter, but I only use it because I don't have a photo called Fucking Evil Bob.

Throughout my lifetime, conservatives have worked hard to deny the vote to people they disagree with, whether it's the southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era or the Republicans of Arizona during the Goldwater era where future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist made his name getting Hispanics of the voting rolls or today when conservatives around the country work hard to take the vote away from the poor, women, college students, anyone who is unlikely to support their nasty nihilistic policies.

If one of the Old Ones decides to fuck with the immortal soul of Robert A. Heinlein, well... it's no skin off my nose. I say to him what he often said to his readers.

You're on your own.

Looking one day ahead...INTO THE FUTURE!

Our new pal from 1905 T. Baron Russell gets another go, this time a prediction that isn't quite as accurate as his first two.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, August 19, 2013

19 August 2013

Ahmed Best b. 1973 (Star Wars, voice of J** J** B****)
Jonathan Frakes b. 1952 (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Diana Muldaur b. 1938 (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Gene Roddenberry b. 1921 died 10/24/1991(Star Trek)

The choice for today's Picture Slot seems pretty cut and dried. Since there is zero chance I would choose the youngest person on the list due to his unfortunate role (not really his fault, always blame the writers and director first), since the other three people on the list are there because of Star Trek, Roddenberry is obviously trump.

Many happy returns to the living.

Movies released
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World In 4D released 2011

Prediction: In 1958, Ford releases the first plans to build a nuclear powered car called the Nucleon.

Reality: Yes! The company that brought you the Edsel and would soon be making both the Maverick and the Pinto was going to make a sporty little two seater with a turbine engine fueled by a nuclear reactor. As you can guess from this mock-up, the engine was in the rear and there was at least two feet of shielding between the nuclear reaction and the passengers.

Also, you can tell this is the 1958 version and not the 1962 because of the fins.

What about a rear end collision? Oh, pish tush, those things NEVER happen.

I suppose I should take this opportunity to say I am not 100% opposed to nuclear energy. It can be made safe and with thorium reactors, the nuclear waste storage problem can be minimized due to recycling. As I read once, nuclear energy is safe unless you do something monumentally stupid.

The Ford Nucleon was monumentally stupid.

Thanks to loyal reader Zombie Rotten McDonald for finding a link to nuclear powered transportation over on

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Last week, we had Robert A. Heinlein disenfranchising young people. Tomorrow, the young get their revenge on the old.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

18 August 2013

Edward Norton b. 1969 (Hulk re-boot)
Grant Williams b. 1931 died 28 July 1985 (The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Monolith Monsters)

The late Grant Williams gets the Picture Slot today. I could have chosen the still from the same scene where his perky wife played by Randy Stuart towers over him, but that just seemed too self-indulgent, if you get my drift.

Mr. Norton has had a very successful career, but very few sci-fi or fantasy roles. Many happy returns of the day to him.


Prediction: August 1977: Dr. Robert Neville injects himself with an experimental vaccine that will stop him from becoming an albino mutant vampire and believes himself the last man on earth

Predictor: The Omega Man (1971)

Reality: And if you want the vaccine, you can take it from his cold, dead hands.

Despite disco, polyester and the Ford Pinto, mankind in fact survived the 1970s.

Coincidence: I could have chosen any date in August to put this prediction - next year I'll put it on August 1, the released date of the movie - but by having The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Omega Man mentioned in the same post, this means a Daily Double for the late great Richard Matheson, who wrote The Shrinking Man and I Am Legend, the novels from which these movies were adapted.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We look at the first of a great set of predictions about nuclear powered transportation, found by Zombie Rotten McDonald, a great friend to this blog.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

17 August 2013

Helen McCrory b. 1968 (Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter)
Harve Bennett b. 1930 (producer and writer for Star Trek)
Glen Corbett b. 1933 died 16 January 1993 (Zephram Cochran on the original series of Star Trek)

What kind of parents would name a boy Draco? Well, a mom named Narcissa and a dad is named Lucius, so that gives you a clue.

Harve Bennett has writing and producing credits on Star Trek  movies two through five, which means two good ones and two bad ones. I think he still deserves a lot of credit for The Wrath of Khan, the movie that saved the Star Trek series. As good as the original Star Wars movies were, science fiction films needed at least two money making franchises back in the late 1970s and early 1980s or the entire genre could have sputtered to a halt.

As a fan of the Original Series, it was strange to see what the writers made out of Zephram Cochran in Star Trek: First Contact. James Cromwell doesn't look like Glen Corbett in the least and his version didn't have a perpetual stick up his posterior.

Many happy returns to the living.

Movies released

ParaNorman released, 2012
The Time Machine released, 1960

Prediction: On August 17, 1966, atomic bombs hit London, triggering a volcanic eruption

Predictor: the movie The Time Machine, (1960)

Reality: The idea that we were going to be nuked was common in popular entertainment from 1950s until at least the 1980s. The idea that there were dormant volcanoes in London, not so much.

How were we supposed to know we were in London of the future in a scene that lasts just a few minutes? There was an overground monorail and Alan Young as a fallout shelter official wore a metallic suit.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another prediction from yet another movie that puts the apocalypse six years into the future.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, August 16, 2013

16 August 2013

Evanna Lynch b. 1991 (Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter)
James Cameron b. 1954 (Aliens, Avatar, The Terminator)
Julie Newmar b. 1933 (Batman, Star Trek, My Living Doll)

Happy 80th birthday to Miss Newmar, the quintessential combination in Hollywood of tall and va-va-voom back when I was a lad. Happy birthdays to Ms. Lynch and Mr. Cameron as well.

Prediction: 16 August 2000: A comet, now split into two deadly parts by a nuclear explosion meant to destroy it, hits the earth and causes untold destruction

Predictor: Deep Impact released 8 May 1998

Reality: Unlike Armageddon, the plan to stop the big rock is not 100% successful. This is the one with Tea Leoni, Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman, not to be confused with 2004's Post Impact, which went straight to DVD.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yet again, a movie gives an exact date for everything going to hell in a handbasket.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

15 August 2013

Jennifer Lawrence b. 1990 (The Hunger Games, X-Men: First Class)
Ben Affleck b. 1972 (Daredevil)
Matthew Wood b. 1972 (voice of General Grevious)
Anthony Anderson b. 1970 (Transformers)

The Cute Girl = Picture Slot rule is used fairly regularly on this blog, but today I would argue Ms. Lawrence deserves the picture more than the other three because her best known role is in a genre movie. Mr. Wood is a voice actor and his face is not well known, and Affleck and Anderson both have long successful careers with very few roles in sci-fi or fantasy.

Many happy returns to them all.

Prediction: By 1965 it was no longer possible for an ordinary young man to get a living as a minister of any church.

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

Reality: This is not the first or the last prediction in speculative fiction that religion was on the way out. We've already had a similar prediction from James Blish, though he wrote his in the 1950s and assumed religion's expiration date would be in the 21st Century.

I am a little confused by the phrase "ordinary young man" here. Could "extraordinary young men" get jobs as ministers? Did you need to have webbed fingers or a lovely singing voice? Wells does not make this clear.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from 2000 predicted in a movie from 1998.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

14 August 2013

Mila Kunis b. 1983 (Oz: The Great and Powerful, Ted, The Book of Eli)
Zack Whedon b. 1979 (writer/singer, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)
Halle Berry b. 1966 (X-Men, Catwoman, Cloud Atlas)
Brannon Braga b. 1965 (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Alexei Panshin b. 1940
(winner of 1969 Nebula for Rite of Passage)

I never saw Catwoman but I do like the costume. The consensus is it was the only good thing in the movie. Many happy returns to all.

Movies released
District 9 released, 2009

I did see District 9. "White hot hate" sums up my feelings nicely.

Prediction: In 2010, District 9, the camp that has held the aliens known commonly as The Prawns for 28 years, is being forcibly evacuated

Predictor: District 9, released 14 August 2009

Reality: Technically, this is a future from an alternate timeline, since there wasn't a public encounter with aliens in 1981. I disliked the movie for many reasons, not least of which is the Nigerians are cast as the criminal bad guys who control drugs and prostitution in District 9.

To my mind, there are some alien races humans would have sex with voluntarily and some that are out of bounds. The Prawns fall in the second category, like the creatures in Predator and Alien and Mars Attacks! But in Blomkamp's mind, Nigerians would stoop to this level for money. Can you say "white privilege"?

Put together scientifically implausible, dull, derivative and racist and you get one of the worst movies of the century so far in my book.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another prediction from H.G.Wells' The Shape of Things to Come.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

13 August 2013

Grégory Fitoussi b. 1976 (G.I. Joe: the Rise of COBRA)
Michael Sinterniklaas b. 1972 (The Venture Brothers)
John Slattery b. 1962 (Iron Man, The Adjustment Bureau)
Kurt Kasnar b. 1913 died 6 August 1979 (Land of the Giants)

The best known actor on this list at the moment is John Slattery, due to his work on Mad Men, but I chose this picture of Dean Venture, voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas, because The Venture Brothers is one of my favorite TV series of the 21st Century, that's a field with a lot of strong competition.

Mr. Kasnar, a successful stage actor, was a regular on Land of the Giants, a show he must have thought beneath him. He was listed as Special Guest Star but he was on every episode. Even as a kid, I thought that was a silly affectation and sadly, it hasn't died yet. Pablo Schreiber is on nearly every episode of Orange Is The New Black but is listed as a Special Guest Star.


Many happy returns to the living.

Rioting on Des Moines Campus

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein, from Methuselah’s Children, started 1941, compiled and expanded into a novel 1958

Reality: In Methuselah' Children, Heinlein says things will get wacky in 1969 and produces several headlines from the year. (1969 is in the middle of the counterculture turmoil, so score one point for Bob there.)

Ridiculous Bob is a proto-Tea Party type. He really loves coming up with ways to take the vote away from people. Next week, the headline will be about the young trying to turn the tables on the old.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our regular schedule will be interrupted until the weekend by predictions from movies.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, August 12, 2013

12 August 2013

Jane Wyatt b. 1910, died 10/20/2006 (Star Trek: The Original Series)
Oliver Ford Davies b. 1939 (Star Wars)
Bruce Greenwood b. 1956 (Star Trek [reboot], I, Robot)

For me as a kid watching Star Trek, the strangest two pieces of casting were Jane Wyatt from Father Knows Best as Spock's mom and Ed Reimers from the Allstate commercials as a Starfleet admiral on the Tribble episode.

Mr. Davies played Governor Sio Bibble of Naboo in all three of the most recent (and clearly inferior) Star Wars  movies. Mr. Greenwood plays Captain Pike in the new version of Star Trek.

Many happy returns to the living.

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Predictions (reality): World records in track and field by 2010 (actual record today)

Long jump: 29' 2½" (29' 4½")
High jump: 8'4"(8' ½")
Pole Vault: 20' (20' 1½")
Shot put: 83' (75' 10")
Discus: 260' (243' ½")
Javelin: 350' (316' 6")
Hammer throw: 325' (284' 7")

The first three predictions are in the ballpark, but the actual records for the throwing sports have only moved up a little since the early 1980s instead of the huge advances predicted.

Another small screw-up in this prediction is the long jump. OMNI assumed that Bob Beamon's amazing jump in the Mexico City Olympics which shattered the world record would never be matched, but Mike Powell beat it in the early 1990s.

Another remarkable fact about records in track and field is how many of them have stood untouched since the late 1980s or early 1990s. While no sport does a perfect job of stopping the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and there have been many recent scandals among sprinters, the slowing rate of increase in the world records of the field events has two likely causes.

1) We are reaching the limits of human endurance in these events
2) Strong policing methods mean the best athletes of today are using less PEDs than their counterparts of twenty years ago did.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tuesday means Heinlein again, this time staying on Earth, but not any closer to accurate.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

11 August 2013

Chris Hemsworth b. 1983 (Thor, Marvel's Avengers, Cabin in the Woods)
Embetz Davidtz b. 1965 (The Amazing Spider-Man, Army of Darkness)
Ian McDiarmid b. 1944 (Star Wars)
Charles Cooper b. 1926 (Star Trek V, Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Regular readers know that the Picture Slot usually goes to the Pretty Girl and Ms. Davidtz certainly qualifies, but there are only a few genre films in her list of credits, while Hemsworth and McDiarmid are best known for being Thor and Palapatine, respectively. Between them, Chris gets the nod because it's his 30th birthday and of the two, he's much prettier.

Many happy returns of the day to all.

Prediction: On 11 August 1984, The first laboratory on the moon is destroyed, taking the lives of Kurt Schaeffer, Maurice Feinstein, Thomas Dooley, Hazel Hayakawa, G. Washington Slappey and Sam Houston Adams.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in The Black Pits of Luna, published 1948

Reality: Some readers might be surprised to see Sensible Bob's picture next to this incorrect prediction about how quickly we would colonize the moon, but I did want to give him some credit for the list of names of the fictional lives lost. For all of his right wing politics, he intentionally makes a very inclusive list, both by gender and ethnicity, for his roll call of brave scientists who lost their lives. (The story is not about the accident. Their names are on a plaque commemorating the disaster.)

Reading from left to right, the brave men and women who lost their lives on 29 January 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded are:

Ellison Onizuka
Michael J. Smith
Christa McAuliffe
Dick Scobee
Greg Jarvis
Ron McNair
Judith Resnik

Saturday, August 10, 2013

10 August 2013

Claudia Christian b. 1965 (Babylon 5)
Suzanne Collins b. 1962 (author, The Hunger Games)
Antonio Banderas b. 1960 (Spy Kids)
Jeff Corey b. 1914 died 16 August 2002 (Star Trek, Babylon 5)

For the past few weeks, I've been checking before posting my list of birthdays each day. I've done some research but I still miss people. Today's addition from the big website is Jeff Corey, an actor with a long career who had guest roles on Star Trek and Babylon 5.

Many happy returns of the day to the living.

Prediction: The Third World War will start in August 1985 between the forces of NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Predictor: General Sir John Hackett and others, The Third World War August 1985, published 1978

Reality: I borrow from Paul Brians, the scholar who has done a very thorough job of cataloging fictional accounts of nuclear war.

"This nearly unreadable exercise in war-gaming by a group of professional military men, warning of Soviet aggression, is one long editorial for military preparedness. It assumes a conventional war beginning in Europe in August of 1985 which ultimately escalates to a limited nuclear exchange... An interesting article discussing President Reagan's enthusiasm for this book appeared in the October 27, 1984, issue of The Nation."

High ranking military men writing fiction about coming wars usually are lobbying for keeping their cushy jobs. The only one who really hit the nail on the head is General Billy Mitchell in 1924, predicting a Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, likely launched on a Sunday. I haven't found any other predictions as canny as that.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from Robert A. Heinlein. He doesn't get it right, but I'm going to argue that this belongs to Sensible Bob instead of Ridiculous Bob.

Join us then...IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, August 9, 2013

9 August 2013

Anna Kendrick b. 1985 (Twilight)
Kevin McKidd b. 1973 (Percy Jackson)
Thomas Lennon b. 1970 (writer, Battle of the Smithsonian)
McG b. 1968 (director, Terminator Salvation)
Eric Bana b. 1968 (Hulk, Star Trek)
Gillian Anderson b. 1968 (The X Files)
Sam Elliott b. 1944 (Hulk)

A lot of talented people on the list, but I would venture that only Gillian Anderson is best known for her work in genre, which of course would be as Scully on The X Files. And of course she is very easy on the eyes, so she gets The Picture Slot.

Prediction: As of 9 August 1999, there are 35 million people in the city of New York and 7 billion on earth.

Predictor: Harry Harrison in his 1966 novel Make Room! Make Room!, source for the 1973 film Soylent Green.

Reality: There were only 8 million in New York City in 2000, so the first number is off by a bunch. The start of the 21st Century saw 6 billion on earth, and we just passed 7 billion in 2012, so the second number is only off by a little.

When the book was written, there were about 7.8 million in The Five Boroughs. The city's growth rate from 1930 to 2000 is very slow, largely because of an exodus in the 1970s. The population shrunk by 800,000 from 1970 to 1980, about a 10% drop.

Readers of science fiction are more likely to know Harrison from his characters The Stainless Steel Rat and Bill The Galactic Hero, but so far only Make Room! Make Room! has been turned into a major motion picture.

Here's a non-spoiler spoiler. Do you know what Soylent Green is?  Soylent Green... is not part of the plot of the original story. No disrespect to Mr. Harrison who died last August, but the dramatic payoff of the original novel is not very dramatic, especially when compared to the movie.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A prediction about the Third World War from a NATO general.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

8 August 2013

Dino De Laurentiis b. 1919 died 10 Nov 2010 (producer of King Kong [1976], The Dead Zone, Dune, Army of Darkness)
Alfre Woodard b. 1952 (Star Trek: First Contact, True Blood)
Keith Carradine b. 1949 (Star Trek:Enterprise, Cowboys and Aliens, Dollhouse)

These days, besides the birthdays I have already collected, I go to to look at their birthday list to see if there is anyone I missed, and today that meant adding DeLaurentiis. The surprise on the list for me was Army of Darkness, a little movie I still enjoy.

Many happy returns to Ms. Woodard and Mr. Carradine.


Prediction: By 1935 everyone was pointing to a sort of contrasted parallelism between America and Russia. Each was manifestly struggling towards a more scientifically organized state, and each was finding the same difficulty in reconciling productive efficiency in the general interest with primarily political control.

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

Reality: A lot of people on the right of the political spectrum are fond of whitewashing the story of their political movement. As someone on the left, I'd rather tell the truth. A hell of a lot of people who called themselves socialists were completely blind to what a massive clusterfuck the Soviet Union was, and that even includes H.G. Wells, an old, fat socialist who should have known better in 1933.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We interrupt our weekly schedule for an exact date from a story by writer Harry Harrison that was turned into a movie.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!