Friday, January 31, 2014

31 January 2014

Justin Timberlake b. 1981 (In Time, Shrek the Third)
Kerry Washington b. 1977 (Fantastic Four)
Minnie Driver b. 1970 (The Deep, Ella Enchanted, Tarzan, Princess Mononoke)
Grant Morrison b. 1960 (writer, All Star Superman, Batman R.I.P., New X-Men)
Jonathan Banks b. 1947 (Millennium Man, SeaQuest 2032, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Otherworld, Buckaroo Banzai)
Glynn Turman b. 1947 (Super 8, FlashForward, Millennium, Gremlins, Manimal, The Twilight Zone [1985])
James Franciscus b. 1934 (When Time Ran Out, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Marooned, The Valley of Gwangi, Twilight Zone)
Jean Simmons b. 1929 (Howl’s Moving Castle, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dark Shadows [1991])
William Hurst b. 1922 died 25 January 1995 (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Six Million Dollar Man, Gemini Man, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Devil Doll [1964], Gorgo)
John Agar b. 1921 died 7 April 2002 (The Twilight Zone [1986], Zontar: The Thing from Venus, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, Journey to the Seventh Planet, Destination Space, Invisible Invaders, Attack of the Puppet People, The Brain from Planet Arous, The Mole People, Tarantula, Revenge of the Creature)
Eddie Willard b. 1911 died 21 August 1981 (Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope, The Mummy [1959])
Percy Helton b. 1894 died 11 September 1971 (Land of the Giants, Batman [TV], The Green Hornet, Twilight Zone, 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Adventures of Superman)

Today's birthday list skews older, with four people born after I was and eight born before. All of the women easily qualify for the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot rule, and we have two really good looking guys, James Franciscus and John Agar, who did bigger budget projects early in their careers but fell into the sci-fi genre ghetto and never quite came back. Jonathan Banks has become an Oh, That Guy with his roles on Breaking Bad and Community, but it's interesting to see him when he was young and had hair. But as you can see, the Picture Slot went to one of my favorite Oh, That Guys of all time Percy Helton. He did a jillion little roles, usually as the sweet faced old man. (In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, his character's name was Sweetface.)

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on the list and to the departed, thanks for all the memories.)

Prediction: The US men’s soccer team will win the World Cup before the Red Sox win the World Series.

Predictors: Taking the yes is Mike Elliot, Editor at large at Time and taking the no, actor Ted Danson

Reality: This is our first prediction from the Wired magazine series of Long Bets. Some have two people betting, one on the yes and the other on the no. Some just have one side covered. Most of the propositions have exact years, but this one is of the form "x will happen before y". For folks who don't follow sports, this bet made in 2002 was resolved in 2004 when the Red Sox won the Series for the first time since 1918.

I'm assuming Elliot went out of his way to make the bet and I will say it was a very bad gamble and not just in retrospect. While it was true the Red Sox were on a terrible streak, they really weren't a terrible organization. One of the obvious things working against him is the World Series is played every year and the World Cup is only played once in four years. The other thing working against him is how far the United States is away from being an elite football power. Americans may like soccer as a sport for the kids to play, but we are so far away from loving it intensely we may never catch up to the Brazilians and Argentines in our own hemisphere or the best countries in Europe.

While I might not live to see either thing happen, I would wager the Chicago Cubs will win the Series before the United States men win the World Cup.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Back to 1893 and some canny predictions from a Mr. Felix Oswald.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

30 January 2014

Jake Thomas b. 1990 (A.I., Dinocroc)
Christian Bale b. 1974 (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige, Terminator Salvation, Reign of Fire)
Tony Maudsley b. 1968 (Day of the Triffids [TV], Being Human, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sleepy Hollow [1999])
Thomas McCarthy b. 1966 (2012)
Julie McCullough b. 1965 (Sharknado, 2012 Ice Age, The Blob [1988], Black Scorpion)
Alex Hyde-White b. 1959 (Babylon 5, The Fantastic Four [1994], Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Battlestar Galactica [1978])
Charles S. Dutton b. 1951 (Alien3, American Horror Story, Gothika, Aftershock: Earthquake in New York, Mimic, Cat’s Eye)
Gregory Benford b. 1941 (won 1981 Nebula for Timescape)
George Barr b. 1937 (illustrator)
Richard Brautigan b. 1935 died 14 September 1984 (author, In Watermelon Sugar, The Hawkline Monster)
Gene Hackman b. 1930 (Superman I through 4, Young Frankenstein)
David Wayne b, 1914 died 9 February 1995 (The Andromeda Strain, Batman [TV], Twilight Zone)
Hugh Marlowe b. 1911 died 2 May 1982 (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Earth vs. Flying Saucers, World Without End)

Last year, the Picture Slot went to Christian Bale, the youngest name on the list who really counts as a movie star and this year it goes to Hugh Marlowe, the first born on this list whose career took a detour into 1950s sci-fi. It should be noted he was also in bigger budget movies like All About Eve. A clear sign of the inversion of the movie industry in the last sixty years is that movies like All About Eve - which now would be called a chick flick - were the big budget movies and sci-fi was a low budget ghetto.

I also must admit a weird moment of forgetfulness this morning during research. I saw Gene Hackman's name on's birthday list and I thought, "No, he's never done sci-fi." I completely blanked on his days of playing Lex Luthor.

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for the memories.

Predictor: Isaac Asimov in 1964, predicting the world of 2014 in honor of the 1964 World's Fair in New York

Prediction: The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of A.D. 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders.

Reality: There is a lot more automation in 2014 than there was in 1964, but we are not "largely a race of machine tenders". Since cost is always a factor, these days industry looks to move routine jobs to places with low wages and few health and safety regulations instead of buying machines to do the jobs.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We get the first of our Wired Long Bets, predictions about the future were people put money on the outcome. Fun!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

29 January 2014

Isabel Lucas b. 1985 (Immortals, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Daybreakers)
Justin Hartley b. 1977 (Smallville)
Sara Gilbert b. 1975 (The Big Bang Theory)
Heather Graham b. 1970 (From Hell, Lost in Space [1998])
Sam Trammell b. 1969 (True Blood, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem)
Michael Ferris b. 1961 (writer, Terminator Salvation, Terminator 3, The Net, Catwoman)
Ann Jillian b. 1950 (Twilight Zone)
Marc Singer b. 1948 (V [2011 and 1983 ], Honey, I Shrunk the Kids [TV], Highlander [TV], Beastmaster, Planet of the Apes [TV])
Tom Selleck b, 1945 (Runaway)
Katharine Ross b. 1940 (Donnie Darko, The Final Countdown, The Stepford Wives)
Paddy Chayefsky b. 1923 died 1 August 1981 (author, Altered States)

There are a lot of famous names on the list today who have only one role in genre, including Paddy Chayefsky, Tom Selleck, Ann Jillian and Sara Gilbert. Ms. Jillian was a just a kid when she was on the original Twilight Zone and like with Star Trek, that will always get a mention here. Sara Gilbert is on The Big Bang Theory, one of the shows that I think is worth a label.

But the Picture Slot belongs Marc Singer from The Beastmaster. Even the Wikipedia page for the movie remembers how unavoidable it was on cable TV in the 1980s, when, according to the jokes, TBS stood for "The Beastmaster Station" and HBO was "Hey, Beastmaster's On!" While many of Singer's best known roles are in fantasy and sci-fi, but it should be noted that at the beginning of his career, he was cast in "high brow" television productions like Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano de Bergerac in major roles, Petruchio and Christian respectively.

And then he became the Beastmaster. I'm sure his parents are so proud.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list and to Paddy Chayefsky... to be honest, I liked Network and Marty better than Altered States.

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

Prediction: Already the study of the psychical side of man has been the means of extraordinary discoveries. Our knowledge of hypnotism, suggestion, thought-transference and similar psychological wonders, obscured though it has unhappily been by charlatanism and the importation into the subject of irrelevant follies, has great promise for the future man, whose psychical faculties will unquestionably develop at the expense of his animal instincts.

Reality: Russell is not alone in assuming psychic powers will be proven possible in the future. At least he admits there are charlatans in the field, which Heinlein failed to do when he predicted psychics used in the military in the 21st Century back in 1956. I scoff at this prediction, but if The Men Who Stare at Goats is even a little bit true, the Army spent a bunch of cash in this century trying to weaponize people with psychic powers and the Soviets had done likewise last Century.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Asimov still has a few more predictions from 1964 to be discussed, so we hear from him in his regular Thursday slot.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

28 January 2014

Elijah Wood b. 1981 (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Sin City, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Spy Kids, The Faculty, Deep Impact, Back to the Future Part II)
Ty Olsson b. 1974 (Nerds and Monsters, Supernatural, Twilight, Arrow, Falling Skies, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Eureka, V, 2012, Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Flash Gordon [TV], Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, X-Men 2, Jeremiah, Dark Angel, Lake Placid, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids [TV], The X-Files)
Melody Perkins b. 1974 (Power Rangers, Planet of the Apes, Charmed)
Lee Ingleby b. 1976 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Kathryn Morris b. 1969 (Paycheck, Minority Report, A.I Artificial Intelligence, Xena: Warrior Princess, Poltergeist: The Legacy)
Frank Darabont b. 1959 (writer/director, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead)
Harley Jane Kozak b. 1957 (Stargate SG-1, Dark Planet, Arachnophobia)
John Beck b. 1943 (Dark Planet, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Audrey Rose, Sleeper, Cyborg 2087, Rollerball, The Time Machine [1978])
Lewis Wilson b. 1920 died 9 August 2000 (Batman [1943])

Last year, Elijah Wood had the Picture Slot and he certainly deserves it, since his best known work is as the star of a genre blockbuster. I could have gone with Frank Darabont since The Walking Dead is so popular. I could have a picture of Lewis Wilson as the very first Batman on film. Ty Olsson has a huge number of credits, but he has the 21st Century advantage of being born in Canada, where a lot of sci-fi TV is filmed nowadays and contracts stipulate a certain number of local actors. This year, I decided to go with John Beck playing Moonpie, James Caan's wingman in the 1975 version of Rollerball for several strong reasons.

1. The character's name was Moonpie!
2. Rollerball is supposed to be set in 2018, so it is definitely apropos for this blog, more so than Tolkien.
3. Moonpie was supposed to be secondary compared to Jonathan, but I never believed for a second James Caan could take John Beck in a fight, fair or otherwise.
4. 1970s Pornstache. There were bigger stars with 1970s pornstaches, (Elliot Gould and Tom Selleck come to mind, as do some actual pornstars) but John Beck rocked his pretty hard. Maybe this should have been reason #1. Let's just call it reasons #4 through #20 and leave it at that.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list and to the late Lewis Wilson, thanks for being a pioneer.

Predictor: Ray Kurzweil in his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines,

Prediction: By 2009, a $1000 personal computer can perform about a trillion calculations per second.

Reality: When he writes "calculation per second", this is usually translated to "floating point operation per second", shortened to "flops". The PS3 in 2010 was at the $500 price point and was at about 250 billion flops. The PS4 broke the trillion flop barrier in 2013 for the requested price point.

Things Kurzweil predicted aren't impossible, but he's very early with most of them. His vision of 2009 looks a lot like 2014 actually is, though some of his predictions are still in the future. He expected technology to go about half again as fast as it actually did.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

As usual, we go back on Wednesdays to 1905. Let's see if T. Baron Russell can spot Kurzweil 94 years but be more accurate.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 27, 2014

27 January 2014

Patton Oswalt b. 1969 (Caprica, Dollhouse, The Venture Brothers)
Tamlyn Tomita b. 1966 (True Blood, Heroes, Eureka, Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow, The Burning Zone, The Last Man on Planet Earth, Highlander [TV], Babylon 5: The Gathering, Quantum Leap)
Alan Cumming b. 1965 (X2, Riverworld, Tin Man, Spy Kids)
Bridget Fonda b. 1964 (Army of Darkness, Snow Queen, Monkeybone, Lake Placid, Frankenstein Unbound)
Julie Caitlin Brown b. 1961 (Babylon 5, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
Susanna Thompson b. 1958 (Arrow, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Next Generation, Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)
Mimi Rogers b. 1956 (The X-Files, Lost in Space [film])
Richard Bremmer b. 1953 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)
Steve Leialoha b. 1952 (illustrator, Peter & Max)
Frank Miller b. 1957 (writer/artist, The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, 300)
James Cromwell b. 1940 (American Horror Story, Spider-Man 3, I, Robot, Salem’s Lot, Star Trek: Enterprise, Deep Impact, Species II, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Michael Craig b. 1928 (Doctor Who, Mysterious Island [1961])
Sabu b. 1924 died 2 December 1963 (The Jungle Book, The Thief of Bagdad)
Lewis Carroll b. 1832 died 14 January 1898 (Alice in Wonderland, The Hunting of the Snark)

Lots of familiar names and faces on the list today. To my mind Richard Bremmer is the most interesting piece of trivia, since he was credited as He Who Must Not Be Named in the first Harry Potter film, before the Dark Lord could completely manifest himself. While I could have put any of a number of people in the Picture Slot, I went with a cover from one of The Dark Knight Returns books by Frank Miller, who along with Alan Moore and others help create the "grim and gritty" style of comic books back in the 1980s.

Many happy returns to the living on the list and to Lewis Carroll and Sabu, thanks for all the memories.

Predictor: The OMNI Future Almanac, published in 1982

Prediction (reality in parentheses): The Components of American Population growth in 2000

Population: 260,000,000 (280,000,000)
Growth rate: 1.0% (1.1%)
Birth rate per 1000: 18 (15)
Death rate per 1000: 9 (9)
Life expectancy: 76 (74.8)
Immigration rate per 1000: 1 (3)

The 1980 population was 227,000,000, so the country gained about 50 million instead of the 30 million the almanac predicted. That might seem pretty far off, but if we look at the difference in the average growth rate over those twenty years, it's the difference between 1.0% a year and 1.1% a year. This big gap is due to "the miracle of compound interest" as my father likes to call it.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

It's Ray Kurzweil's chance again to look at 2009 from a vantage point in 1999.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

26 January 2014

Cameron Bright b. 1993 (Twilight Saga, Earth’s Final Hours, The 4400, Ultraviolet, Stargate-SG1, Dark Angel)
Sara Rue b. 1979 (Eastwick, The Big Bang Theory, Idiocracy, The Ring)
David Straithairn b. 1949 (Godzilla [2014], Alphas, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Brother From Another Planet)
Mimi Leder b. 1952 (director, Deep Impact)
Scott Glenn b. 1941 (Sucker Punch, Tall Tale)
Roger Vadim b. 1928 died 11 February 2000 (director, Barbarella)
Philip José Farmer b. 1918 died 2/25/2009 (won 1972 Hugo for To Your Scattered Bodies Go)
William Hopper b. 1915 died 6 March 1970 (20 Million Miles to Earth, The Deadly Mantis)
Dorothy Newman b. 1914 died 20 May 1994 (Bewitched, The Terror, Twilight Zone, The Day the Earth Stood Still)
Charles Lane b. 1905 died 9 July 2009 (The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes[1995], Dark Shadows [1991], Otherworld, Strange Invaders, Bewitched, Twilight Zone, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, Mighty Joe Young)

I was definitely in an "Oh That Guy" mood today, so the Picture Slot went to Charles Lane, a guy who played the Grumpy Guy in 363 movie and TV credits, about ten of which count as genre. Except for the author Philip José Farmer and the young actor Cameron Bright, everyone here has (or had) a long career with just a few sci-fi or fantasy titles on the list.

Many happy returns to the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.


Prediction: The Third War to End All World Wars (1960) provides the backdrop for this typical tale of struggle against an Orwellian dictatorship in 2018.

Predictor: Bryan Berry in Born in Captivity, published 1952

Reality: Today begins a new Sunday slot of predictions about nuclear wars that include a given year when it will start. I have not read all these works, but instead pulled the information off of the terrific website of Paul Brians. All editorializing, like "typical tale of struggle" comes from Professor Brians' descriptions.

There are 27 predictions from his list that have years and not exact dates, so it could be argued that the next six months of Sundays are going to be pretty depressing. Taking the other side of the argument, think of all these stories as scenarios we have avoided for about 70 years. Having been a kid when the Cuban missile crisis took place, I'm a little surprised and very pleased that we live in a world where fear of the bomb has almost completely subsided.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

OMNI Future Almanac takes its scheduled Monday prediction slot once again, usually much more cheerful than threatened nuclear annihilation.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

25 January 2014

Mia Kirshner b. 1975 (Lost Girl, Defiance, The Vampire Diaries, The Crow: City of Angels, Dracula: The Series)
Kurt Evans b. 1974 (Arrow, Fringe, Watchmen, The Andromeda Strain [2008], Supernatural, The 4400, Stargate SG-1, Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like Me, Tru Calling, Andromeda, The X-Files)
Don Mancini b. 1963 (screenwriter, Child’s Play)
Richard Poe b. 1946 (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager)
Leigh Taylor-Young b. 1945 (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Looker, Soylent Green)
Anita Pallenberg b. 1944 (4:44 Last Day on Earth, Barbarella)
Tobe Hooper b. 1943 (Taken, Dark Skies, Invaders From Mars. Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot)
Gregory Sierra b. 1941 (Vampires, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, Something Is Out There, Beneath the Planet of the Apes)
King Donovan b. 1918 died 30 June 1987 (Invasion of the Body Snatchers [1956], The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Magnetic Monster)

The majority of our birthday boys and girls today were born in the 1940s and did their best known work last century. I gave the Picture Slot to Richard Poe as the Cardassian Gul Evek because he is one of the few actors to show up on all the Star Trek series set in the 24th Century and he always played the same character, which is not always the case for Star Trek guest stars. Kurt Evans has so many roles he should be an Oh, That Guy actor by now, but like many actors who get a lot of work this century, most of it is in Canadian sci-fi and I don't watch that much of it. The biggest surprise for me was how often Gregory Sierra appeared in genre work. I always remember him from his role as Chano on Barney Miller.

Many happy returns to all the living on our list, and to King Donovan, thanks for all the memories.
Predictor: Elijah W. Halford (1843-1938), personal secretary to President Benjamin Harrison

Prediction: In the Executive Mansion of 100 years hence. I think I can see the present building as the central part. There is no doubt that this building will soon have to be enlarged.

Reality: Okay, Mr. Halford is a little bit or a disappointment. In regards to 19th Century facial hair, he has a small, well trimmed moustache. As for his prediction, it's hardly "sci-fi", but on the positive side, it's 100% correct. The West Wing was added in 1902, expanded in 1909 and the East Wing was built in 1942. There was also a third floor added in 1927. (Let it be noted that alleged historian Bill O'Reilly was chided for having Lincoln walking around the Oval Office in his book Killing Lincoln. The Oval Office is in the West Wing and it would be about four decades after Lincoln was dead before that room was added.)

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles gives up its regular Sunday slot and is replaced by a series of predictions of nuclear wars that we somehow have avoided for about 70 years. Fun!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, January 24, 2014

24 January 2014

Matthew Lillard b. 1970 (Scooby-Doo, Thir13n Ghosts, Wing Commander)
Stephanie Romanov b. 1969 (Angel)
David Gerrold b. 1944 (screenwriter, The Trouble With Tribbles)
Ernest Borgnine b. 1917 died 8 July 2012 (Gattaca, Laser Mission, Escape From New York, The Black Hole, Future Cop, The Devil’s Rain, The Neptune Factor)
C. L. Moore b. 1911 died 4 April 1987 (author, Northwest Smith, Cthulhu Mythos)
E.T.A. Hoffmann b. 1776 died 25 June 1822 (author, The Sandman, The Tales of Hoffmann, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King)

Only six birthdays this year and only three of them are still alive. Hoffmann is best known for fantasy stories that have been turned into operas, Catherin L. Moore was a very busy writer back in her day and last year's Picture Slot was filled with a shot of Kirk chest deep in tribbles. Doing today's research, I was surprised at how many genre movies and TV shows Ernest Borgnine was in and he will probably be next year's Picture Slot. But this year, what with me being a sucker for Joss Whedon shows and high cheekbones, we are looking at Stephanie Romanov as Lilah Morgan, the villainous lawyer on Angel. As for Matthew Lillard, I've never been much of a fan of Scooby-Doo, live action or cartoon, so unless he makes a sci-fi hit in the future, his chances for being in the Picture Slot are pretty slim.

Many happy returns of the day for Lillard, Romanov and Gerrold, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Predictor: Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, speaking at a TED Talk in 2006

Prediction: High end computers will cost $10 in 2020.

Reality: Joy said this eight years ago and we are still six years out, so I can't say with 100% confidence that he is wrong. Still, if I had to bet, I'd bet against this one  even if we stipulate that the screen is a separate part. The chips needed for the best possible gaming computer might come down to that range, but the keyboard, mouse and other input devices will cost more than $10 because they are made from plastic.

With this prediction, we bid farewell to TED talks as our regular Friday source of predictions. Next week, we will welcome Wired Long Bets as our new source for predictions. Many of the same people who have given TED talks also will be involved, but this time they actually bet cash money on whether they are right or wrong.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Saturday is our day to go back to 1893 to see what people thought the 20th Century would look like.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

23 January 2014

Sonita Henry b. 1977 (Doctor Who, Star Trek [2009], The Fifth Element)
David Patrick Kelly b. 1951 (K-PAX, The Crow, Dreamscape)
Richard Dean Anderson b. 1950 (Stargate, Legend [TV])
Rutger Hauer b. 1944 (True Blood, Dracula 3D, Salem’s Lot, Smallville, The 10th Kingdom, Merlin, Lexx, Buffy the Vampire Slayer [movie], Ladyhawke, Blade Runner)
Gil Gerard b, 1943 (E.A.R.T.H. Force, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)
Greg Hildebrandt b. 1939 (Illustrator)
Tim Hildebrandt b. 1939 died 11 June 2006 (Illustrator)
Lou Antonio b. 1934 (Star Trek)
Walter Michael Miller b. 1923 died 1/9/1996
(won 1961 Hugo for A Canticle for Leibowitz)

Last year on this date, I put the cover art for A Canticle for Leibowitz in the Picture Slot. Next year, I'll probably go with Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner. But this year it's Greg and Tim Hildebrandt's re-imagining of Tom Jung's original Star Wars poster. The models in the Hildebrandt work don't resemble the actors very much, but you can see the  Maxfield Parrish influence in their choices of colors and light. They also did a lot of illustrations of Tolkien characters. Tim died in 2006 from complications due to diabetes.

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Predictor: Isaac Asimov in 1964, asked to predict life in 2014.

Prediction: Well, the earth's population is now about 3,000,000,000 and is doubling every 40 years. There are only two general ways of preventing this: (1) raise the death rate; (2) lower the birth rate. Undoubtedly, the world of A.D. 2014 will have agreed on the latter method. Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy in some parts of the world to age 85.

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened, but, I suspect, not sufficiently. One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World's Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teen-agers).

Reality: I have often chided the late Mr. Asimov for his predictions, but this one is really good. He says the population doubles every 40 years, and according to Wikipedia, it took 39 years to go from 3 billion to 6 billion, so full points there. Life expectancy of 85 years has been attained for the general population in Monaco and Japan; there are 20 countries where the life span for women is 85 or better. The birth rate and the world population growth rate are decreasing, in large part because reducing the infant mortality rates in developing countries has resulted in women having less children. As for the lectures and documentaries and, I suppose, dirty movies shown at the 2014 World's Fair... actually, the next World's Fair that I've seen advertised in 2015 in Milan. There may be smutty movies there, but they will probably by adverts for cell phones or some other silly gadget.

Still, getting the doubling rate almost exactly, predicting the reduction in birth rate and hitting the best life expectancy rates threshold makes this one of the most accurate predictions I've published yet. We have only a few more predictions left from Asimov's list in 1964, and after a slow start, he has improved dramatically. I for one will be sorry to see him go.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

TED talks! I only have a few left from this list and I honestly will not be sorry to see them go.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

22 January 2014

Sami Gayle b. 1996 (Vampire Academy)
Matthew Newton b. 1977 (Queen of the Damned, Farscape, The Lost World[TV])
Balthazar Getty b. 1975 (Feast, Charmed, Judge Dredd)
Olivia d’Abo b. 1969 (Invader ZIM, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Eureka, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Conan the Destroyer) Diane Lane b. 1965 (Man of Steel, Judge Dredd, Jumper)
Linda Blair b. 1959 (The Exorcist, Supernatural, Scream, Repossesed)
Michael Kospa b. 1956 (Arrow, Supernatural, Fringe, Apollo 18, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Watchmen, Eureka, The 4400, Stephen King’s Dead Zone, Fantastic Four, Dark Angel, Stargate SG-1, The Outer Limits [1996], The X-Files, Highlander [TV])
John Hurt b. 1940 (Alien, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Outlander, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, V for Vendetta, Hellboy, Nineteen Eighty-Four)
Bill Bixby b. 1934 died 21 November 1993 (The Incredible Hulk, My Favorite Martian, Twilight Zone)
Piper Laurie b. 1932 (Bad Blood, Dead Like Me, The Faculty, The Twilight Zone, Return to Oz, Carrie)
Robert Halmi Sr. (producer, Riverworld, Flash Gordon [TV], Hogfather, Dinotopia, Jason and the Argonauts [TV], Alice in Wonderland [TV], Gulliver’s Travels [TV])
Robert E. Howard b. 1906 died 11 June 1936 (author, Conan, Kull, Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane)

If I was looking for the best known face on the list, it would depend on the age of the reader. People my age might well choose Bill Bixby, but he's now been dead for 21 years, so younger audiences might only dimly recognize him. John Hurt is another excellent choice for the Picture Slot based on fame, and Linda Blair in her iconic role is another. Any of the actresses qualify using the Pretty Girl = Picture Slot criterion, but after all that, you are now looking at a picture of Robert E. Howard, the pulp fiction writer from the 1920s and 1930s, a man who died at the age of 30 who produced an astonishing number of stories. A lot of his fame now is attributable to a resurgence of interest in his most famous character Conan the Barbarian in the 1960s, some thirty years after he died, when some clever paperback publisher commissioned Frank Frazetta to paint the cover art for Conan and the books flew off of the shelves.

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to Robert E. Howard and Bill Bixby, thanks for all the memories.

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

Prediction: Although, in some of their characteristics, they will be greatly ameliorated, advertisements may very likely still constitute one ground of discontent with the newspaper of the future.

Reality: Yeah, they are a ground of discontent because they barely exist anymore, especially the classifieds. It would be too much to ask for someone from 1905 to predict the effect of the Internet on daily life 100 years into the future, though E.M. Forster's 1909 science fiction story The Machine Stops has an entity that is at least metaphorically a lot like the Internet today.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Once again, Isaac Asimov is back to tell us about 2014 from his vantage point in 1964.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Never to be Forgotten:
Sarah Marshall 1933-2014

Sarah Marshall, a British actress who worked in film, on TV and on the stage has died at the age of 80. She starred in the Twilight Zone episode "Little Girl Lost" as the mother of the title character and she played Dr. Janet Wallace on the Star Trek episode "The Deadly Years", where the entire away team catches some alien bug that makes them age rapidly. Yes, always a good idea to send the entire senior staff to an alien environment.

Regular readers will know that Star Trek and Twilight Zone are among the shows I consider seminal, so when any actor who had a lead role on either show dies, their work will be honored here.

Best wishes to the friends and family of Sarah Marshall, from a fan. She is never to be forgotten.

21 January 2014

Booboo Stewart b. 1994 (Twilight Saga, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft)
Izabella Miko b. 1981 (Clash of the Titans)
Svetlana Khodchenkova b. 1983 (The Wolverine)
Ken Leung b. 1970 (Lost, X_Men: The Last Stand, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence)
Michael Wincott b. 1958 (Alien: Resurrection, The Crow)
Geena Davis b. 1956 (Transylvania 6-5000, The Fly, Beetlejuice, Earth Girls Are Easy, Stuart Little)
Steve Reeves b. 1926 died 1 May 2000 (Hercules, Hercules Unchained, The Thief of Baghdad, Goliath and the Barbarians)
Telly Savalas b. 1922 died 22 January 1994 (The Twilight Zone, Capricorn One)

A short list today and the older actors on the list have more star power than the younger names. Geena Davis gets the Picture Slot this year, though next year it might be Steve Reeves. Telly Savalas did almost no work in genre films or TV, but because of my age and tastes, anyone who showed up even once starring on an original Twilight Zone episode with get their birthday noted here.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to Steve Reeves and Telly Savalas, thanks for all the memories.

Predictor: Ray Kurzweil in The Age of Spiritual Machines, published in 1999

Prediction: By 2009, intelligent roads and driverless cars will be in use, mostly on highways.

Reality: Kurzweil is tech-savvy, so his predictions are not impossible but usually premature. According to Wikipedia, driverless trucks were being used in mining operations last decade, but even now fifteen years out from his prediction, we are still a long way away from driverless cars on the freeways. I can understand how young people in technology today can have a libertarian streak in them, looking upon government as an unnecessary intrusion on innovation. In this case, even if driverless cars are ten times or one hundred times safer than humans, that would mean the number of accidents might be reduced from ten million a year to a million or one hundred thousand a year. That is still a heck of a lot of lawsuits.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Wednesdays mean a visit from our man on the spot in 1905, T. Baron Russell, boldly looking one hundred years ahead.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 20, 2014

20 January 2014

Evan Peters b. 1987 (X-Men: Days of Future Past, American Horror Story, Kick-Ass, Invasion [TV])
Daniel Cudmore b. 1981 (Twilight, X-Men)
Crystal Lowe b. 1981 (Primeval: New World, Almost Human, Smallville, Supernatural, Stargate[TV])
Skeet Ulrich b. 1970 (Jericho, The Craft)
Rainn Wilson b. 1966 (Super, Monsters vs. Aliens, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Galaxy Quest, Charmed, Dark Angel)
R. A. Salvatore b. 1959 (author, Forgotten Realms series)
Daniel Benzali b. 1950 (Jericho, The X-Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation)
David Lynch b. 1946 (director, Dune, Eraserhead)
Tom Baker b. 1934 (Doctor Who, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Frankenstein: The True Story)
Buzz Aldrin b. 1930 (astronaut)
Peter Donat b. 1928 (The X-Files)
Patricia Neal b. 1926 died 8 August 2010 (The Day the Earth Stood Still)
DeForest Kelley b. 1920, died 6/11/1999 (Star Trek)
Colin Clive b. 1900 died 25 June 1937 (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein)
A. Merritt b. 1884 died 21 August 1943 (author, The Moon Pool, Burn Witch Burn!)

The birthdays on the list span slightly more than 100 years today, and for my money there are four people who deserve The Picture Slot in nearly equal measure. Last year on this date, I put up a picture of DeForest Kelley, and I promised to have Buzz Aldrin this year. But I've done more research now and if I keep this up for four years, Tom Baker, still the most popular Doctor after all these years, and Colin Clive, the original Dr. Frankenstein in the first two movies in the series, have to get a shot as well.

Many happy returns to the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Movies released
Underworld Awakening released, 2012

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac

Prediction: in 2005, the first commercially viable biochip "interface" will be demonstrated. A volunteer will be connected by wire to a device that averages human brain waves and recognizes the wave that is a command to the computer by means of a biofeedback-learned code. The user will be able to answer any difficult question within thirty seconds by accessing the computer's massive database.

Reality: Oh, OMNI Future Almanac, you're adorable. This prediction isn't that much goofier than some of the stuff from our current regular Tuesday predictor Ray Kurzweil, but seeing the word "biofeedback" brought on a wonderful wave of nostalgia for me.

And since this section is labeled Reality instead of Enjoying the Quaint, I should say that nothing like this existed in 2005 and still doesn't exist today.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Yes, tomorrow will be a Tuesday and we will hear from Ray Kurzweil with another prediction about 2009 from his 1999 book.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

19 January 2014

Benjamin Ayres b. 1977 (Lost Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Smallville, Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1)
Allen Steele b. 1958 (author, Orbital Decay, The Death of Captain Future)
Katey Sagal b. 1954 (Futurama, Lost, Jack and the Beanstalk [2010], Smart House)
Richard Lester b. 1932 (director, Superman II and III, The Mouse on the Moon)
Tippi Hedren b. 1930 (The 4400, The Birds)
Edgar Allan Poe b. 1809 died 7 October 1849 (author, The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher)

In his 1998 book The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of, Thomas M. Disch argues that Poe, not Jules Verne or H.G. Wells, is the true father of science fiction and that it is a distinctly American genre which from its inception was closely linked to hoaxes and Poe was involved in a few during his very brief life. I'm not completely convinced by this theory, though I recommend the book wholeheartedly and thank my friend Michael Strickland for giving it to me. Whether or not he counts as science fiction, he definitely counts as fantasy and this blog acknowledges artists from both genres.

Many happy returns to the living on the list today, and to Edgar Allan Poe, nobody loved a rotting corpse as much as you did, buddy, and now you have been one for eight score and five. Keep up the good work.

Predictor: Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles, published 1950

Prediction: In November 2005, nuclear war breaks out on Earth and the vast majority of settlers on Mars decide to return.

Reality: Perhaps I should have written "spoiler alert" on the prediction, as this is the first real plot point in The Martian Chronicles, a loosely connected set of short stories collected and published in 1950. This will also be the last prediction taken from the book, ignoring the dates past 2020 that make up the last few chapters.

I have to say the idea that people on Mars would return to Earth en masse because of nuclear war makes no sense to me.  Splitting the species into two populations so widely removed from one another greatly increases the chances of survival. For one branch to rejoin the other as it heads on a suicidal path is a very bad idea.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

OMNI Future Almanac gets its regular Monday shot at trying to guess the events to come from its vantage point in 1982.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

18 January 2014

Antje Traue b. 1981 (Man of Steel, Pandorum)
Jason Segel b. 1980 (This is the End, Gulliver’s Travels)
Jay Chou b. 1979 (The Green Hornet)
Dave Bautista b. 1969 (Riddick, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Kevin Costner b. 1955 (Waterworld, The Postman, Man of Steel, Testament)
Paul Freeman b. 1943 (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
John Boorman b. 1933 (director, Excalibur, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Zardoz)
Robert Anton Wilson b. 1932 died 1/11/2007 (author, The Illuminatus Trilogy, Schrodinger’s Cat)
Orville Sherman b. 1916 died 1 October 1984 (Westworld, The Twilight Zone, The Brain Eaters, The Adventures of Superman)

Last year on this date, before I had done much research, Jay Chou was in the Picture Slot. This year it's Antje Traue, who biggest role to date is as the Kryptonian warrior Faora-Ul in the latest Superman movie Man of Steel. I could have put up a picture of Kevin Costner, the best known name on the list, but it seemed a little cruel to remind a man on his birthday of his biggest flop Waterworld. Another good choice would have been Paul Freeman, best known as the villain Belloc in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Many happy returns of the day to all the living on the list, and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

Predictor: Charles Foster (1828-1904) governor of Ohio 1880-1884, Secretary of the Treasury 1891-1893

Prediction: "Thomas A. Edison, the greatest genius of this century, says that electricity is terrestrial magnetism and the universe is full of it. Edison believes electricity may be pumped out of the earth or the sea, just as water is pumped out of a stream. The only thing necessary now is to find the form of the pump that will do the trick."

Reality: I would not put Edison as the greatest genius of the 19th Century, just as I wouldn't put Bill Gates or Steve Jobs as the greatest geniuses of the 20th Century, but I understand the respect the general public gives to successful inventor/industrialists. Here, Foster is assuming that if Edison says something it must be true, not unlike the way the general public thinks the people who give TED Talks must know their ass from their elbow. Regular readers will know that TED talkers don't have that great a track record at predicting the future and in this particular case, neither did Edison, which makes a fellow like Foster who trusted him look bad.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

One last date from The Martian Chronicles.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, January 17, 2014

17 January 2014

Ray J b. 1981 (Mars Attacks!, Steel)
Zooey Deschanel b. 1980 (The Happening, Tin Man, Bridge to Terabithia, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
Keith Robinson b. 1976 (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Freddy Rodriguez b. 1975 (Planet Terror, Lady in the Water)
Genndy Tartakovsky b. 1970 (Artist, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Samurai Jack, The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory)
Naveen Andrews b. 1969 (Lost, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Sinbad, Planet Terror, Rollerball [2002], Mighty Joe Young [1998])
Joshua Malina b. 1966 (The Big Bang Theory, American Horror Story, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Stargate SG-1, From the Earth to the Moon)
D.J. Caruso b. 1965 (director, I Am Number Four, Smallville, Dark Angel)
Jim Carrey b. 1962 (Kick-Ass 2, A Christmas Carol, The Number 23, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Bruce Almighty, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Batman Forever, Earth Girls are Easy, Once Bitten)
Denis O'Hare b. 1962 (True Blood, American Horror Story)
Tom Lowell b. 1941 (Escape from the Planet of the Apes, The Invaders, The Addams Family, The Twilight Zone)
Andy Kaufman b. 1949 died 16 May 1984 (Heartbeeps)
James Earl Jones b. 1931 (Star Wars, Stargate SG-1, Lois & Clark, The Meteor Man, Conan the Barbarian, The UFO Incident)
Eartha Kitt b. 1927 (Holes, Erik the Viking, Batman [1967])
Betty White b. 1922 (Lake Placid)

My first "Geez, I'm old!" moment of the morning came by realizing Andy Kaufman has been dead for 30 years. Lots of choices for the Picture Slot today. Last year it was James Earl Jones, but even with his name removed, there's a heck of a lot of star power here. I was this close to putting Betty White in, because All Sentient Beings Love Betty White, and Eartha Kitt, Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel are all worthy candidates as well, but I went with Naveen Andrews because I would argue that Lost is the defining genre show this century so far, no matter how bad it sucked at the end.

Many happy returns to all the living on this list, and to Andy Kaufman, thanks for all the weird memories.

Predictor: Gregory Stock in 2003

Prediction: We will alter ourselves as much as we have altered the world in the next five to ten years. We will have modified aging, modified emotions. We will have perfected human cloning and the selective implanting of children.

Reality: Did you know that the people who give TED talks are only paid travel expenses and hotel costs? Well, I hope they gave Dr. Stock a ticket on Greyhound and one night at the Travel Lodge, because this steaming pile certainly wasn't worth any more than that. There may come a day when cloning is acceptable and we can "modify" aging, but it's eleven years out from his brave new world and he got nothing right.

Okay, let me amend that slightly. We can "modify" emotion. Watching a TED Talk can almost always piss me off, so that has to count for something.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Saturday is our weekly scheduled trip back to 1893, a time of bold predictions and bolder facial hair.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Never to be Forgotten:
Russell Johnson 1924-2014

More bad news today. (Please refrain from mentioning the Group of Threes, because it isn't actually true.) Russell Johnson, best known to American audiences as the Professor on Gilligan's Island. The character's real name was Roy Hinkley Jr. He gets mention on this sci-fi blog for his roles on the 1960s TV shows The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone and The Invaders, and for roles in the 1950s monster movies The Space Children, Attack of the Crab Monsters, This Island Earth and It Came From  Outer Space. For me, these cheesy movies are a major part of my childhood and I agree with Ken Jennings' tweet from earlier this week.

I have three categories.

1. This is good.
2. This is bad.
3. I loved this when I was a kid, so I have no idea if it's good or bad.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Russell Johnson, from a fan. He is never to be forgotten.

Never to be Forgotten:
Roger Lloyd-Pack 1944-2014

Roger Lloyd-Pack, a much beloved British actor who played Bartemius Crouch Sr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 69. He also played John Lumic, a desperate industrialist who creates the Cybermen, on two episodes of Doctor Who in 2006. In a bit of casting coincidence, his son Barty Crouch Jr. is played by David Tennant, who played The Doctor in the 2006 season.

Other work in genre films and TV shows includes Interview with the Vampire, U.F.O., Nineteen Eighty Four, The Magus and the British TV show The Avengers.

British obits mention his best known TV shows, Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley. He also did a lot of work on the stage. Michael Billington in The Guardian calls Lloyd-Pack "the Perfect Pinter performer".

I send my best wishes to all the friends and family of Roger Lloyd-Pack, from a fan. He is never to be forgotten.

16 January 2014

Aaliyah b. 1979 died 25 August 2001 (Queen of the Damned)
David Chokachi b. 1968 (Witchblade)
Caroline Munro b. 1949 (Space: 1999, At the Earth’s Core, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter)
John Carpenter b. 1948 (director, Ghosts of Mars, Escape from L.A., Village of the Damned, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, They Live, Prince of Darkness, Big Trouble in Little China, Starman, Christine, The Thing, Escape from New York, The Fog, Halloween, Dark Star)
Kate McMullan b. 1947 (author, Dragon Slayer’s Academy)
Keith Wayne b. 1945 (Night of the Living Dead)
Karl Freund b. 1890 died 3 May 1969 (cinematographer, Metropolis, Dracula, The Golem)

The biggest name in genre on today's birthday list is director John Carpenter, but you will notice he's not in the Picture Slot. Caroline Munro is the all-time crush of my good friend Alan, so we are now looking at her. (As though I need an excuse to put up a picture of a fabulous babe.) I usually only mention writers, directors and producers when listing people behind the camera, but Karl Freund's work as a cinematographer is definitely worth a mention for his work in silent films and early talkies. He is also credited with developing the three camera studio set-up for sitcoms and his name in the credits of all episodes of I Love Lucy.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, a tip of the hat to Karl Freund, and best wishes to the family and friends of Aaliyah, who died much too young.

Predictor: Isaac Asimov, predicting the world of 2014 in honor of the 1964 Worlds' Fair in New York.

Prediction:Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. Not all the world's population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world. They will have moved backward, relatively.

Reality: Let’s take this sentence by sentence.

1. Technological advances have grown like gangbusters since 1964, so full points there.

2. Not all the world has the coolest latest gadgets. Hell, I don’t have the coolest latest gadgets. Undeniably true.

3. A larger portion will be deprived. This one is a swing and a miss. It’s hard to measure gadget inequality since the gadgets have changed so much. In 1964, many of today's favorite gadgets didn't exist yet, like personal computers, video games and cell phones.

One technological marvel that does span the entire era is the television. According to the website nationmaster .com, ownership of a TV around the world has skyrocketed. In 1975, only the U.S. and the U.K. had over 90% ownership of televisions and major industrialized nations like Germany, France and Japan were still under 80%. The most recent numbers from the 21st Century show a completely different situation. There are now 76 countries around the world where television ownership is over 90%, including many countries in regions that are not considered fully industrialized like Latin America and the former Soviet bloc countries. Both India and Bangladesh were listed in 1975 as having less than 1% of the public with a TV, and they have risen now to 32% and 23% respectively.

As an almost middle class American over 50, I would say my dad's generation had it better than we did in a lot of ways, but the upside of globalization is that abject poverty worldwide has shrunk markedly. Take your good news where you can get it.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We get another prediction from the TED talks, with Gregory Stock in 2003 looking at the brave new world that awaits us by 2013.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

15 January 2014

Regina King b. 1971 (The Big Bang Theory)
James Nesbitt b. 1965 (The Hobbit, The Deep, Jekyll)
Kelly Asbury b. 1960 (director, Shrek 2)
Robert Silverberg b. 1935
(won 1972 Nebula for A Time of Changes)
Joanne Linville b. 1928 (Star Trek, The Invaders, Twilight Zone)
Phyllis Coates b. 1927 (Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark, I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, Invasion U.S.A.)
Lloyd Bridges b. 1913 died 10 March 1998 (Rocketship X-M, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, Alice in Wonderland [1985], Battlestar Galactica)
Torin Thatcher b. 1905 died 4 March 1981 (The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Land of the Giants, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Jack the Giant Killer)
Ernest Thesiger b. 1879 died 14 January 1961 (The Bride of Frankenstein)

Today's birthday list is much more about the past than it is about today, so it's only fair the Picture Slot goes to Torin Thatcher, an "oh, that guy" actor who was on all four Irwin Allen shows in the 1960s as well as a Star Trek and as the bad guy in one of the Ray Harryhausen movies. Phyllis Coates was one of the Lois Lanes in The Adventures of Superman and Lloyd Bridges is best known for non-genre work in Airplane! or Sea Hunt depending on your age. I almost went with Joanne Linville in the Picture Slot, since she was the first woman on Star Trek to break the glass ceiling and sit in the captain's chair when she played a Romulan commander. Another iconic choice would have been Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorious from The Bride of Frankenstein, the mad scientist who had a menagerie of tiny people in jars.

Many happy returns to the living on the list and to the dead, thanks for all the memories.

 Movies released
The Book of Eli released, 2010

Prediction: In 1904, devastating fires break out all around the world, destroying most of the countryside and several cities, including New York, London and Paris. They are caused by the over-reliance of nitrogen as a fertilizer.

Predictor: Author Robert Barr in his short story Within an Ace of the End of the World, first published in April 1900, part of the collection Steampunk Prime, edited by Mike Ashley.

Reality: Science is cool and science is scary. We live in a world of wonders, but we rely on so much technology that no one person can possibly understand everything that is going on. Right now, most of our worries about the food supply are concerned with biological engineering. At the turn of the 20th Century, the big breakthroughs were new artificial fertilizers, which of course can be used as explosives as well, but only when mixed with other chemicals.

As always, the devil is in the details.

Reading as many doomsday scenarios as I do is equal parts reassuring and unsettling. Most of the worries of the past were completely unfounded and I get the feeling that most of the today's apocalyptic predictions are just as misguided. But then there's the sheer number of things that we get warned about. If one of the big ones is actually worse than we think, it could be hell in a handbasket time sooner than we realize.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Is tomorrow Thursday already? That means another visit from Isaac Asimov. Oh, goody!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

14 January 2014

Kevin Durand b. 1974 (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Resident Evil: Retribution, I Am Number Four, Lost, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Andromeda, Dark Angel, Stargate SG-1)
Jason Bateman b. 1969 (Hancock, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium)
Emily Watson b. 1967 (Equilibrium)
Kerri Green b. 1967 (The Goonies)
Mark Addy b. 1964 (Game of Thrones, Around the World in 80 Days, The Time Machine, Atlantis[TV])
Steven Soderbergh b. 1963 (director, Solaris, Contagion)
Lawrence Kasdan b. 1949 (writer, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Dreamcatcher)
Carl Weathers b. 1948 (Predator, The Six Million Dollar Man)
Marjoe Gortner b. 1944 (Food of the Gods, Starcrash)
Holland Taylor b. 1943 (Spy Kids, The Truman Show)
Faye Dunaway b. 1941 (The Handmaid’s Tale, Supergirl)
Tom Tryon b. 1926 died 4 September 1991 (I Married a Monster From Outer Space)
Guy Williams b. 1924 died 30 April 1989 (Lost in Space, Captain Sindbad, I Was a Teenage Werewolf)
Hugh Lofting b. 1886 died 26 September 1947 (author, Doctor Dolittle)

There were other choices, but the trailer for season four just came out and I finished the fifth book A Dance With Dragons a few weeks back, so who can blame me for being in a Game of Thrones mood. The British comic actor Mark Addy played Robert Baratheon, First of His Name, a bad king but a great drunk, philanderer and cuckold. (Should I have said "spoiler alert"?) For next year, I'm not sure who gets the Picture Slot, but Guy Williams has to be the early favorite.

I shouldn't give away my trade secrets, but when I see names on, it's not enough that they were in some genre film or TV show but that are near the top of the bill. Tom Tryon, both an author and one heck of a handsome guy, gets on the list for one movie because he is one of the newlyweds in I Married a Monster From Outer Space. I'll be a sport this time and refrain from telling you if he was the I Married part or the Monster From Outer Space part.

You're welcome.

Predictor: Ray Kurzweil from his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines

Prediction: In 2009, most text will be created using speech recognition technology.

Reality: Following a tip from Zombie Rotten McDonald in a comment thread, I hunted down a list of predictions for 2009 from Ray Kurzweil, my new regular Tuesday prediction guy for the next few months. I read a statement on his Wikipedia where he claimed that all his predictions save one came true, and the one he got wrong was made in jest.

I don't know how to break this to you, Mr. Kurzweil, but... I'm a tougher grader than you are. This isn't even true today and it sure wasn't the case in 2009. This counts as a big fat goose egg. You are 0 for 1.

If anyone tells you Ray Kurzweil is as good a futurist as he was a synthesizer maker, tell them the guy who writes This Day in Science Fiction calls bullshit on that claim and can back it up chapter and verse.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Our Wednesday regular T. Baron Russell gets pre-empted by a prediction from one of his contemporaries writing fiction courtesy of the collection Steampunk Prime.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 13, 2014

13 January 2014

Liam Hemsworth b. 1990 (The Hunger Games, Knowing)
Orlando Bloom b. 1977 (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean)
Patrick Dempsey b. 1966 (Transformers, Enchanted, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [1997], Outbreak)
Bill Bailey b. 1965 (Doctor Who, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Spaced, Nanny McPhee)
Richard Moll b. 1943 (Smallville, Galaxis, Babylon 5, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Highlander [TV], Wicked Stepmother, House [1986], Caveman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)
William B. Davis b. 1938 (Continuum, Caprica, Supernatural, Stargate SG-1, The X-Files, Smallville, Andromeda, It (TV Mini-series))
Billy Gray b. 1938 (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Navy vs. the Night Monsters)
Ron Goulart b. 1933 (writer, Flash Gordon, TekWar, Vampirella)
Gregory Walcott b. 1928 (Plan 9 from Outer Space)
Osa Massen b. 1916 died 2 January 2006 (Rocketship X-M, Cry of the Werewolf)
Jeff Morrow b. 1907 died 26 December 1993 (Twilight Zone, Octaman, This Island Earth, The Giant Claw, Kronos, The Creature Walks Among Us)
Clark Ashton Smith b. 1893 died 14 August 1961 (author, Hyperborea, The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis)

Plenty of choices for the Picture Slot today, but I don't have to justify using The Smoking Man this year. He's plenty iconic.

Explanation of a few names is in order. Poor Gregory Walcott had a long career mainly in Westerns, but he is top bill in Plan 9 from Outer Space, so he's here. Lovely Osa Massen only did two genre roles, but one of them was immortalized on Mystery Science Theater 3000 with one of my favorite riffs from Joel Hodgson "Well, thank you, Mister White Male Reality!" Bill Bailey is a British comedian, Richard Moll was Bull Shannon on Night Court, Billy Gray was Bud on Father Knows Best, Jeff Morrow got stuck in multiple 1950s monster movies, Ron Goulart is the ghost writer of William Shatner's TekWar, and Clark Ashton Smith, who was an artist and sculptor as well as a writer, is considered one of the "big three" of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, along with H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

Many happy returns to all the living on the list, and to the dead, please don't rise from the grave, and yes, I'm talking to you, Clark Ashton Smith!

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Prediction: By 1994, perfection of the room-temperature superconducting chip will make possible the first wristwatch computer with a larger capacity than a 64K memory. The device will be able to handle all the computing functions of a tabletop home microcomputers. Instead of depending on typed input or a video screen, the device will accept and impart information through vocal instructions in English.

Reality: I've been running into a lot of predictions about wearable technology in my research, but this one thought it would be here much earlier than most. (I'm not counting Dick Tracy, since we didn't get exact dates.) Of course, we now have ads for wrist phones playing on TV nearly non-stop, so this prediction is off by two decades.

I did have to smile at "a larger capacity than a 64K memory". And I'm personally holding out for a phone that accepts instructions in Klingon. I don't want just any goofball hacking into it.

Back to reality for a moment, the wrist phones look cool in the ads, but what is their actual advantage over the phones available now? It's obvious the screen is way smaller and where exactly is the input? I'm now a grumpy old fart and no longer an early adopter, but I'm smelling the faintest whiff of Segway on this latest tech wave. I've been wrong before, but we will see a year from now whether the wrist phones and Google glass and the other first generation "wearable tech" really catches on or this is "ooh, virtual reality!" all over again.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tuesdays for the next few months will belong to predictions about 2009 from Ray Kurzweil's 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

12 January 2014

Will Rothhaar b. 1987 (Battle Los Angeles, Buffy, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Kaja Foglio b. 1970 (illustrator, Girl Genius)
David Mitchell b. 1979 (author, Cloud Atlas)
Oliver Platt b. 1960 (X-Men: First Class, 2012, Bicentennial Man, Lake Placid, Tall Tale)
Rockne S. O'Bannon b. 1955 (writer, Farscape, V, Alien Nation, Revolution, Twilight Zone [1986])
Kirstie Alley b. 1951 (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Village of the Damned)
John Lasseter b. 1957 (director, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Cars, Cars 2)
Haruki Murakami b. 1949 (author, 1Q84, Sputnik Sweetheart)
Geoffrey Hoyle b. 1942 (author, 2010: Living in the Future)
Jack London b. 1876 died 22 November 1916 (author, The Iron Heel)

One of those rare birthday lists when writers and artists outnumber actors. The Picture Slot goes to Kirstie Alley as Saavik. At the risk of sounding sexist, I can still look at old pictures and think "Wait, Kirstie Alley was a Vulcan? Now hang on... KIM CATRALL WAS A VULCAN? Now you are just pulling my leg."

One name I want to introduce is Geoffrey Hoyle, son of Sir Fred Hoyle who wrote sci-fi with his dad. (Not to be confused with the British performer Geoff Hoyle, known for his work in The Lion King and a founder of the San Francisco group The Pickle Family Circus.) In 1972, Geoffrey Hoyle wrote a children's book entitled 2010: Living in the Future. It's out of print, but I've found a copy online, so Hoyle is going to be a regular weekly contributor to the prediction section over the next few months.

Many happy returns to all the living on our list, and to Jack London, thanks for predicting exact dates in The Iron Heel.

Prediction: On 12 January 1992, the HAL 9000 becomes operational

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in the screenplay of 2001: A Space Odyssey, repeated in the book 2010. (pedantic note: In Clarke's novelization of the original screenplay, the date is 12 January 1997.)

Reality: I don't intend the blog to become a greatest hits collection, so as a general rule I won't be repeating every prediction that has an exact date on its anniversary. But some science fiction characters are iconic and HAL 9000 certainly qualifies. Most sci-fi before the microprocessor revolution of the early 1970s either ignores computers or doesn't realize how quickly they will become so big a part of people's lives, and for that Clarke a lot of credit for coming up with HAL in the late 1960s. Instead of underestimating the importance of computers, he writes about computer technology that wasn't actually possible by the 1990s. It's not the first instance of "our creations are going to take over" in science fiction. Rossum's Universal Robots works with that theme in 1920. But 2001 is a major milestone in science fiction being taken seriously by Hollywood, and the theme of a computer takeover of humanity is continued in later works like Colossus: The Forbin Project, WarGames and the Terminator movies and TV shows, among many others. Just like Richard Matheson's I Am Legend deserves props as the start of the Zombie Apocalypse movement, Arthur C. Clarke's HAL 9000 is a major early influence in the Cyber Apocalypse movement.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Monday means OMNI Future Almanac, still one of my favorite sources to delve into, more beloved for boldness than for accuracy.

Wait... I should make that MUCH more beloved for boldness.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!