Archive for the ‘English-speaking Aliens’ Tag

Spock’s Final Frontier   Leave a comment

Leonard-Nimoy-Spock-picture

Farewell, Friend…

I heard he had gone into the hospital, but who’d ever think that Spock would die?  That’s as unfathomable as space and time itself!

Spock…dead?

People of a certain age, such as myself, count their youthful years against the number of Star Trek episodes they identify with.  I was quite young when they originally aired, but I remember seeing them.  Later, in the 1970s, Mom always turned the show on after dinner.  And there he was, Spock, spouting his quiet but firm logic against the perpetually angered and impulsive Kirk.  He had a better grip on things, from his unique perspective.  Half human, half Vulcan, he read into Earthly beings with insight, yet allowed his mature, tamer side to pump out the decisions that allowed the Enterprise to stay afloat in space.

So why wasn’t he the captain, you ask?

No swagger value, I’m afraid.  A quiet, contemplative fellow, Spock chose to pursue feats of the brain instead of the brawn.  And that’s fine, really.  There’s too many jocks out there, and every braniac, nerd, geek and other reject embraced Spock with a passion, because it gave them a great model to follow.  No, you don’t have to be a football player or a cheerleader – the universe needs thinkers, too!

In middle and high school, the same geeky types that were into Star Trek were also into such shows as Dr. Who and Space: 1999.   Even Monte Python’s Flying Circus.  We were the group that got all the strangeness because we didn’t have to worry about what people thought of us – they already thought we were weird.  Our imaginations set us free, launching us into the stratosphere with odd concepts convincingly plausible.  I got a bit stuck on wondering just exactly where in the universe the Enterprise was located, or headed.  How come they never ran out of gas?  Or water?  Or food?  Where did they get their uniforms from?  Who did the laundry?  How did they maintain personal hygiene?  I figured a ship that size had to have an awfully large cargo bay.  Maybe they did purloin provisions from populated planets.

My college friend Linda probably had some insight into these issues.  She devoted her life (at that point, anyway) to two things: music and Star Trek.  She memorized each episode, completely down to the credits.  She possessed an actual female uniform and wore it when the occasion demanded it.  Without hesitation she could name any tiny bit of trivia one threw at her, often showing down many a Star Trek scholar – which she proudly was – often at the price of a beer.

Still, this iconic sci-fi show would be nothing without its iconic star.  Spock beckoned us to live long and prosper, which he surely did.  He leaves us to enjoy the episodes which made him famous and live long in our hearts forever.

Ignored by Science Fiction   Leave a comment

primordial_soup

As one who pays attention to these things, there are always topics and trends that crop up in science fiction that capture imaginations and remain hot for years.

For starters, let’s say anything to do with computers – a perennial favorite.

It seems the moment someone figured out how to put information into a machine and expected a result from doing so launched an endless parade of stories.  You got hacking films (take, for example, “Sneakers” to “Blackhat”), unfortunate, misleading games turning out to anything but innocent fun for kids with big ideas and little life experience (“War Games,” “Enders Game”), and even computer-generated lives influencing mortal ones (how can anyone forget “Max Headroom”?).

I’m guessing computers/computing kind of puts you in charge of the story, in a way.  As a writer, all one has to do is invent a directive without actually writing one for real.  So of course your story can have the main character develop a fantastic method of convincing every single stock broker in America to hand over 25% of profits and deposit the money in a Geneva bank, without question, just by writing a simple, foolproof code.  Then the main character goes off and gives all the money to charity instead of living high of the hog.  Now that, folks, would be real science fiction, because nothing like that ever happens in real life!

Other perennial favorites sci-fi topics (but not limited to) include:

  • Aliens attacking the Earth
  • Attractive aliens seducing Earthlings and making them do things (good and bad)
  • Human-looking people cavorting with otherworldly beings (and what category do they fit in?)
  • Nuclear accidents and other holocausts
  • Earth going bye-bye
  • Interplanetary hijinks and death battles
  • Every sort of space station on every kind of planet, moon and subspecies of galactic existence having issues of some sort
  • Weather (Earth and elsewhere) having a mind of its own
  • Time/space travel and its consequences (good and bad)
  • Beings simply not getting along and the often unfortunate circumstances that arise from said conflict
  • Brains – you name it

The mind has a reputation for possessing a fertile imagination.  I’d like to think I’m pretty good at dreaming up stuff.  I’ve had this blog for nearly a year and I kind of pinch myself when I notice how much I’ve managed to spew out.  And yeah, some of you might notice I started two chapters of a book on this site and left it alone for ages – sorry, had other things going on – but I’m not done there, so don’t worry.  So I’m putting together a list of topics I really haven’t seen any serious sci-fi author tackle yet.  Yes, I might be mistaken, and maybe I haven’t read the right books yet (and there is an endless supply of those, too), but here’s kind of a wish list for topics I’d like to either read or write about someday:

  • Brussel Sprouts and Liver – Moms terrorize children the planet over, forcing them to eat food they hate (vegan/vegetarian options welcome)
  • The Anti-Text – A 17-year-old girl has to live a full hour without her cell phone…and survive
  • Game Over – Professional gamers have to make do with “Pong”
  • XT/AT – Present-day programmers scramble to get work done with only 10/20K of memory and have to use Sideways to print their spreadsheets
  • Ink Link – Tats jump off of everyone who has one and take over the world, with both disastrous and comical results
  • We Get It – Men and women understand each other perfectly and respond to each other’s needs and wishes without fighting over who’s right or needier
  • Nice Day – The confusing, unfortunate results of continued pleasant weather, good-mannered people, well-paying jobs and general happiness
  • Netscape – People discover this is the only browser available and have only the “Surprise” button to use, and so experience wacky, madcap misadventures
  • Wait for No One – Serving staff goes on strike, coffee ceases to exist, coffee isn’t served anymore and the populace winds up jittery, angry and bitter
  • Misidentified Fruit – People mistakenly ingest innocent-looking but suspicious-behaving fruit and wind up encased in rock-heavy cakes everyone rejects when served up during the holidays

Anyway, I could go on.

What would you add?

Underserved topics of sci-fi, unite!

 

 

The Dark Side of Star Wars   Leave a comment

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http://t.co/EKG1mEpIgC

You’re sitting in your favorite chair, reclining and relaxing to that iconic sci-fi morality tale trilogy, Star Wars.  You’re petting the cat, eating popcorn as you watch planets blow up, walkers trip and burn, even the Death Star going ka-blammo!  It’s all good fun, and you even find yourself cheering.

But did you even consider the toll?  I hesitate to say “human” toll…many species lives were lost.  And it’s kind of sad, don’t you think?  But then again, it’s all in the name of a heroic cause, and now, if you click on the above link, you’ll have your opportunity to cheer on the death and destruction, as Digg has tallied all 2,005,645,868 deaths in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Quite a feat, I’m sure, but worthwhile, just in case you wondered…and admit it…you have…

Enjoy!

Official “Star Wars” Leaks   Leave a comment

You knew it had to happen.

With the impending arrival of “Star Wars: Episode Seven”, there’s all kinds of stuff being posted on YouTube.  My husband sent me one link today and after viewing it, I drooled.  If you hadn’t seen this one already, go ahead, take a glimpse:

Note the exquisite detail.  Whoever did this is a dedicated geek worthy of award status.

Of course, if you have that, you’re also going to have to look at the leaked TMZ photos of Episode 7, too.  Since these have been out for a while and no doubt everyone’s had a look already, I’m including these as a matter of convenience.  You know, so you can geek out all in one space.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/06/leaked-star-wars-footage_n_5562440.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share#slide=start

Enjoy!

The Plot Thickens   2 comments

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Image: Lynette Cook, NASA

There’s a brisk business in the sci-fi fiction world wherein writers devise plots regarding worlds thousands of millions of light years yonder, only reachable by wormholes or imagination.  At the same time, astronomers here on earth keep their eyes stuck to their favorite observing instrument of choice seeking out new planets, and, because there appears to be an obvious lack of wormholes (or so I believe; I could be wrong), they use their imaginations to conceive images of what these new worlds would look like.

On Independence Day, I sat on the porch of my parents’ house (so hard still to visit and not see my mother there) and flipped through the offerings on Endgadget.  A posted article entitled, “The first potentially habitable alien planets we ever found – might not actually exist,” written by Richard Lawler caught my attention.  In it, he writes about Gliese 581g, a planet orbiting Gliese 581, a star located in the constellation Libra.  What made Gliese 581g so intriguing is its location in the “Goldilocks zone,” so called because it’s the correct distance from its sun to possess a moderate temperature for liquid water – not too hot or cold.  It had also been determined that the planet didn’t spin on its axis and one side was perpetually in the dark.  Artists created imaginative drawings, dreaming up visions of what this planet could look like.

Alas, it appears to have been all for naught.  Spectrographic readings taken from Gliese 581 now indicate that 581g might actually not exist.  How is that possible?  The short answer is that the very signals that determined a planet might be located in a particular place also can be attributed to another source, say, “space stuff.”  What would have produced a signal for the spectrometer to read no longer exists.  It faded.  Disappeared.  Or, alternatively, may have been misread.

What a delicious idea for a plot.

Take it from the 581g’s point of view.  Of course, that wouldn’t be the name of the planet.  In my head, it’d be more like Ulele or Onodon – a whispery moniker reminiscent of mystery and exotica.  For millennia the habitants, fiercely protective of their unique home, shrouded their visibility because of a unique feature Ulele/Onodon hosts.  A signal accidentally launched by a careless Uleleian/Onodonite as it lit its cigarette on a rations replenish break, triggers a spectrograph that sits in the Earth lab of Dr. Jill Jackson, a red-headed ball of fire pouncing on a grand opportunity to stake her position as the sharpest astrophysicist in the universe.  Having maxed out her credit cards and on the brink of credit collapse, she aims for the Nobel Prize and its generous financial reward and reveals her discovery to fellow scientists.  Unbeknownst to her, the Ulele/Onodons are hot on her trail, thanks to sensitive instruments tuned to the merest hint of detective devices such as the one Dr. Jackson uses, and seek revenge…but not before re-cloaking their planet.  Vowing to hunt her down like an unwanted cockroach in a Harlem apartment, Ulele/Onodon Fowler Falx is hot on her trail, and won’t stop until she’s obliterated and vanishes from view…just like 581g.

See, that explanation is much more entertaining than, “We thought we saw something…honest!…but it just…disappeared.  Or, a similar incident as detailed above really happened and no one will admit it, because as any watcher of any sci-fi series involving space generally hide evidence regarding alien encounters.  Since the jury is out on aliens’ actual existence, I’d like to seize this celestial development and give it a life, thicken its plot and give it hope for the future.

Keep your eyes to the skies, folks.  The universe is filled with enigmas.

 

Happy Independence Day!   Leave a comment

Independence-Day-1996-MOvie-Image

Scene from the movie, “Independence Day” 

Hooray for America!  Tomorrow is Independence Day, otherwise known as The Fourth of July.  It’s a big deal in this part of the world, mainly because we get the day off, drink beer, eat BBQ and shoot off fireworks in the hope that the cops won’t show up and have you arrested for setting fire to the neighbor’s roof.

July 4th has always been about fireworks of a sort, especially when the aliens come and visit.  You never know what they have up their sleeve, those sneaky gits.  Take, for example, the well-regarded film, “Independence Day.”  As pictured above, the aliens had plans about freeing Americans from the slinky tethers of the White House, because they knew to arrive there and blow it up.  Out of all the grand buildings dotted across the USA, the aliens carefully researched the most appealing targets and thoughtfully removed them from the map.  Intentionally, aliens freed ordinary Americans from the drudgery of law, order and the relative stability of a democratically-elected government…or made a statement about the Tea Party and the Koch brothers.

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“Independence Day” Alien

Aliens, on occasion, are sticky.  I could name a whole bunch of films that depict our off-world colleagues as drippy, goo-piles that slurp and ooze.  It’s never explained why, but I’m certain if a human should, on the brink of death at the alien’s hand, mentioned that their acceptability rate would skyrocket if they only dried off a bit, then the inevitable all-Earth obliteration would be so much more palatable.  So here’s our friend that I’ll name Indy, dripping.  It could be that the crack in his skull is releasing vital body fluids, or it secretes when harmed/threatened.  Either way, it’s gross.  Stop it, already, before your cred plummets even further!

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Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore, in “Independence Day” 

Often, American presidents are played by grey-haired but dignified old(er) men.  Who wasn’t impressed with prime-of-his-life, hunky Bill Pullman as the ex-Air Force pilot tackling those nasty aliens?  Instead of sitting on his buttocks complaining about the state of things, he went out and did the job himself, just like Obama does when he gets sick of all that congressional shilly-shallying.  And yes, he didn’t quite get rid of the problem (that was left to Randy Quaid, possessor of a problematic off-camera life), but gee, doesn’t he look hot just for trying?

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Brent Spiner as Dr. Brackish Okun in “Independence Day”

What sci-fi film would be complete without data…or Data?  Playing against type, Brent moved away from his android role in ST: TNG to this guy.  Here’s something a few of you might not have known: around the same time (or at least the same decade), he appeared on Broadway in the play, “1776,” which is also about American independence.  I went.  Even took my parents.  And damn, he was good.  The man can sing!

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Swaggering heroes Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum

Because this is an American film using an American holiday as its title, America is entitled, so to speak, to claim the victory.  While three-quarters of the planet’s wiped out, Americans came in and saved the day!  Woo hoo!

So what are you going to do tomorrow?  My suggestion: watch completely predictable, over-the-top, stereotyped-rife Independence Day.  What better way to celebrate?

And you don’t even need to be an American to do so.

 

Children: Alien Specialty   Leave a comment

Devil's Tower

Credit:  Andrew Chattaway – Moon over Devil’s Tower

 

With kids and cute aliens helping out each other again this summer, I’d thought I’d focus on a few past endeavors by Hollywood that exploits children for the greater good of the alien’s quest to rule the planet, or at least have some practical use for it.  Generally, all the aliens wind up doing is using the kids (or their friends/family) to stick it to the man, break laws, wreak havoc and make a positive, heartwarming impression on the kid(s) that will guide them through the rest of their lives.

Quick!  Name five films wherein aliens and kids meet up, bond and learn important life lessons that will guide them through their formative year and beyond.  Name two wherein Devil’s Tower figures prominently.

Drawing a blank?  Here’s mine:

1) E.T. – An obvious choice, eh?  Such a story: a lonely kid from a broken marriage meets up with an ugly-but-cute alien who is also a fugitive from those nasty government people.  After a few tentative missteps, alien and kid learn a few things off of each other and discover that being different has its assets.  Older brother totally embraces the outlaw aspect of harboring said fugitive, gets friends on board to skirt the law after a scary brush with it, then everyone goes on a quasi-high speed dodge-’em bike chase to lose the cops and send E.T. back to the planets.  It’s a heartwarming tale meant to leave the viewer with a warm, glowing feeling…just like the pulsating chest of E.T.  Kids also learn the value of sticking it to The Man by learning that all government officials are evil, hostile sorts who have absolutely no business wondering just exactly what kind of being from another planet goes after young innocents and teaches them how to get away with breaking nation security protocols.

2) Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Kid actually gets abducted by stereotypical, pale verdigris aliens and winds up in a ginormous ship from which mobs of abductees are eventually unloaded back to the planet where they were first plucked.  It’s assumed they’ve been probed, charted, analyzed and documented for future use.  Cherub child, abducted in early scenes of film, runs towards Mommy (who’s been skirting the law herself trying to get the kid back) once he’s set free.  In the film, it’s mentioned that some have an unusual force beckoning them towards the expected alien landing site.  Apparently, they were invited to attend, and the calling card is an unshakable mental image of a strange-shaped mountain located somewhere in the American West.  Well, the kid was dragged through a doggie door.  I get the distinct impression it wasn’t his idea to come to the party or he even had the faintest idea of what Devil’s Tower even was, where it stood or why he, of all kids, was selected for this particular space venture.  Apart from being scarred for life with post-traumatic stress disorder from his abduction, we know that child is going to be just…fine…

3) The Day the Earth Stood Still – Little Bobby Benson’s Dad died in World War II, and Klaatu/Mr. Carpenter’s just the guy who’ll show him not only how to improve his math skills, but nuclear bombs are a bad idea because if anyone on Earth’s ever going to use them, Klaatu’s going to teach all those naughty, nasty Earthlings a big lesson they’ll never forget.  The government’s going after Klaatu, so he uses Bobby’s mom Helen as his ticket to freedom and get back to Gort and that big ship sitting on the President’s Park ellipse.  Kids learn that while they might be able to skirt the law together with their new-found alien friend, their parents might.

4)  Mars Attacks! – Now, these are teenagers that wind up being victorious in the end.  What’s cool about this one is Natalie Portman, as the president’s daughter Taffy Dale, winds up giving Lukas Haas, another teenager, the Medal of Honor, all because Slim Whitman yodeling makes the Martians heads explode.  There really is no law to skirt here, but if nothing else, the cheese factor’s on overload, with Tom Jones providing plenty of it for the film.  Natalie Portman would go on to play Padmé Amidala in the “first three episodes” of Star Wars films.

5) Paul – This one’s a bit of a stretch, but Paul landed on Tara Walton’s dog, who was stigmatized her entire life and called a freak because she met a real alien and no one believed her.  A child at the time, she suffered insults from other kids thinking she was a reclusive nut case, which she did become.  In the end, we find out that she isn’t really skirting the law, only trying to have a wonderful adventure to make up for the rotten hand that Paul dealt her by helping him escape the G-men out to nab Paul for the Big Guy.  One can only imagine the misadventures that lie ahead for both she and her old friend, Paul.  And yes, they go to Devil’s tower, where everyone know aliens go for a good time.

So. What’s your favorite child & alien film?

 

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