Short Film ‘Wanderers’ reignites passion for exploration

Science fiction, once the refuge of the outcast and the weirdo, is currently an important part of pop culture. But once upon a time it served a purpose to propel the human race to not just buy more products but to think outside of the realms of possibility.

The Wanderers is like a message in a bottle containing a dream the future long past… perhaps newly remembered.

Via the Huffington Post:

Combining breathtaking visuals of realistic depictions of a variety of places in our solar system — kindly detailed by Wernquist here — with the ever-mind-expanding words of Carl Sagan, pulled from an audio recording of his book “Pale Blue Dot,” Wernquist tempts readers to wonder what lies beyond our atmosphere and visualizes what it would be like if humanity happened to make that journey in the future. Take four minutes out of your day and be inspired by the exceptional creation above.

The search for alien intelligence bears bitter fruit in The Starmind Record

I have been following the development of 8 Sided Films for some time and even worked with Tennyson Stead on promoting another project still in development, “Sam Bailey.” A multi-media/multi-facted production company made up of extremely talented individuals, 8 Sided Films has created something very special with “The Starmind Record.”

Part 1 of 7

Expect a full review in the coming days, but in the meantime there is an official press release below:

“The Starmind Record” Blazes a Trail Through Social Media to Cinema

Oct 29, 2011
Audiences, critics, and festivals are embracing “The Starmind Record”, a new science-fiction web series from repertory film company 8 Sided Films. Where most successful web content puts a focus on cinematic production value, “The Starmind Record” is unique for adapting traditional dramatic principles to an online format.

In his blog, writer and director Tennyson E. Stead comments that “the work of the actors [in ‘The Starmind Record’] is as rich and complex, as terrifying and funny, as anything you could hope to see in an Oscar-winning production. ‘The Starmind Record’ may be the web series that finally shows people what this format is good for, and what it is capable of.”

“The Starmind Record” itself is the story of two documentary filmmakers from Los Angeles who discover and investigate the presence of an extra-terrestrial intelligence. By presenting the series as a documentary, the show follows other productions in sidestepping the issue of production value. What makes the show unique is the degree to which it plays to the strengths of the performers and the story behind it.

Those strengths are driving a growing online community that will carry 8 Sided Films into movie theaters, claims Stead:

“Over the last two years, working together to build our audience has yielded strong results… Right now, our focus is on producing microbudget films for limited theatrical release, as a stepping stone for a more global 8 Sided audience.”

Utilizing a group of creators, executives, and the principles of repertory theater, 8 Sided Films is building a social-media driven audience to propel theatrical cinema. Currently, their focus is on building viewership for “The Starmind Record,” in support for the production and theatrical distribution of a film now in development called Quantum Theory.

“In Quantum Theory, a defense contractor steals next-generation quantum technology. The two, you know, sassy post-doc geniuses who created it will literally have to change the world to get it back,” explains Stead.

Drawing on the cast of “The Starmind Record” and the writing and directing talents of Stead, Quantum Theory takes a pragmatic approach to social media.

“Branding can happen overnight. Building a community takes years, but that community is the only thing that trumps executive decision-making within the industry. Everyone wants steady ticket sales, so this is a filmmaker’s only path to true independence,” comments Stead. “Working by myself, I probably couldn’t pull something like this off… but there’s about ten of us. We can do it.”

Fans of “The Starmind Record” can look forward to seeing series star Charlotte Gallagher at the top of Quantum Theory’s cast list, where she will be joined by Starmind alums Danielle K. Jones, Ray Auxais, and Gerard Marzilli.

Watch “The Starmind Record” and learn about upcoming releases at the company’s website:

# # #

8 Sided Films represents stewardship over stories too multifaceted, specific, or unique for studio production, and our commitment to honoring that intent as the foundation for a more personal relationship with our audience.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence reaches an end

Back in my childhood, it seemed to me that science fiction had a close association with actual science. Even the Fourth Doctor played by Tom Baker fell to his death from an array dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. It seemed that as a culture we were becoming closer to a reality that mirrored our dreams.

These days, those dreams are getting dismantled one by one, including the demise of SETI itself.

Via i09:

With SETI shut down, is the search for extraterrestrial life over?

With SETI shut down, is the search for extraterrestrial life over?This week, the SETI Institute announced that it would have to shut down its large radio telescope facility, called the Allen Telescope Array, near the California mountain town Hat Creek. For over a decade, SETI has used the 42 radio dishes in its array to scan the skies for possible communications from extraterrestrial intelligence.

2011 was expected to be a banner year for the group, because recent space probe missions have revealed the locations of over 1000 possible Earthlike planets – and with them, regions of space where the array could scan for signs of the civilizations we hope to find on planets like our own.

Over the years, SETI has been funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, and donations from philanthropists like Paul Allen. This year, the NSF cut its funding to SETI to ten percent of what it had been. According to the San Jose Mercury News:

What’s lacking now is funding to support the day-to-day costs of running the dishes. This is the responsibility of UC Berkeley’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory, but one of the university’s major funders, the National Science Foundation, supplied only one-tenth its previous support. Meanwhile, the state of California has also cut funding. About $5 million is needed over the next two years.

SETI astronomer Seth Shostack told the paper:

This is about exploration, and we want to keep the thing operational. It’s no good to have it sit idle. We have the radio antennae up, but we can’t run them without operating funds.

SETI hopes to make up for the lost funds by doing work for the Air Force, tracking dangerous space debris near Earth.

Though there are a few other telescopes that occasionally scan the skies for extraterrestrial communication, SETI was the only experiment devoted to this activity full time. If donors don’t step forward to keep the array operational, we could miss out on a chance to make contact with civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy. Or we might miss the early warnings of an imminent invasion. Either way, the loss of SETI’s Allen Telescope Array is a terrible tragedy.

All is not yet lost. You can learn more about the SETI Institute, and donate to SETIhere.

Iron Sky

Towards the end of World War II the staff of SS officer Hans Kammler made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity. From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late ‘45 to found the military base Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) on the dark side of the Moon. This base was to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over the Earth once the time was right.

Now it’s 2018, the Nazi invasion is on its way and the world is goose-stepping towards its doom.

Iron Sky is a science fiction comedy being produced by Energia Productions, Blind Spot Pictures and co-produced by 27 Films. At the moment, the production is gearing up with costumes being made, sets designed and plans being finalized. After the shoot we will enter a year long post production process.

The primary language of the film will be English with worldwide distribution, through theaters and via the Internet.

From the same people behind Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning, the Finnish Star Trek/Babylon 5 comedy, Iron Sky has been getting lots of support from the online science fiction community and its no surprise as to why. The script is by award winning author Johanna Sinisalo and the effects look simply breathtaking. It has been some time since a sci-fi comedy was mounted with such an eye toward quality and with such an unusual concept. Combining alternate history, humor and pulp science fiction concepts, Iron Sky looks like it is sure to impress.

Iron Sky will be released on DVD in 2011.
Pre-order by clicking on the image below:

Friday 9/18/09 Links

Friday 9/18/09 Links

Grant Morrison Documentary

I’ve actually had the good fortune to meet Grant Morrison in person (ironically along with filmmaker and comic book creator Patrick Meaney). Mr. Morrison is one of the most gifted and polite comic book writers that I have spoken with and he also has one of the most unique approaches to the comic book medium since Jack Kirby. The documentary that Patrick Meaney has filmed explores the writer through his groundbreaking work on the Invisibles.

The film features extensive interviews with Morrison himself, as he recounts his own life story: his early days, growing up in Scotland; the start of his comics career; the crazy years of the ’90s, as his life and his comics became enmeshed; and his more recent attempts to turn personal troubles and social darkness into compelling comics. The film also gives insight into his creative process, including a look into his vaunted idea notebooks.

Complimenting Morrison’s own words are interviews with many of his most important collaborators, including Dan DiDio, Frazer Irving, Phil Jimenez, Geoff Johns, Cameron Stewart, Jill Thompson, Mark Waid, and others. The film is scheduled for completion in mid-2010.

This project has been covered considerably in the media, including Publisher’s WeeklyWizard,Arthur MagazineCBR’s Robot 6ComicopiaMajor SpoilersSequential MindedGoma de Mascar,Daily Comic Book CoversBear AlleyComic Book JesusComics AllianceCuindando Pop,OmeleteOnerdescritor, and X-Ray Spex.

The documentary is currently available for pre-order from SequArt.


Another friend and comic book co-creator also active in the multimedia world is Michael LaRiccia (who provided the excellent story ‘The Last of the Spitting Baboons for Zebra). He has many projects on the shelves right now including a story focusing on the vintage videogame Joust in the third volume of the videogame-themed anthology Life Meter.

Life Meter Comics

Life Meter Comics, the anthology of video-game inspired comics returns, bigger and better than ever!

Life Meter 3 will be the first FULL-COLOR volume, featuring both blast processing and Mode-7! Sporting a dynamic cover by Ben Hatke (Flight, Zita the Space Girl), this print collection will be 120-pages and include original stories by Neil Babra (Flight, Hamlet), Jacob Chabot (Mighty Skullboy Army), Monica Gallagher (Gods & Undergrads), K.C. Green (Gunshow), Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling), Matthew Loux (Salt Water Taffy), Mike Maihack (Cow and Buffalo), Jonathan Rivera (Heartbreak), and tons more! Profits will be donated to

Debuting at the Small Press Expo will be a limited 1st edition of Life Meter 3! There will be exactly 40 copies, each signed and numbed with an exclusive print by Zack Giallongo!


340x_320122388_c5f0213b8e_b_01Doctor Who Top 10: fans vote for all-time best episode

Hilariously #2 is a ‘Doctor-less’ story… ah, fandom. You tickle me.

Top Ten Episodes of Doctor Who
2. BLINK (2007) starring DAVID TENNANT
7. PYRAMIDS OF MARS (1975) starring TOM BAKER
8. CITY OF DEATH (1979) starring TOM BAKER
9. THE ROBOTS OF DEATH (1977) starring TOM BAKER

There are three issues I’d raise with this list:

1. Surely this list needs a face-lift as the same stories are featured nearly every year. Genesis of the Daleks, Caves of Androzani and Talons of Weng Chiang are worthy of praise but… come on!

2. No Hartnell, Troughton ore Pertwee stories? Not one?

3. It also makes no sense to vote for part one of a two part story in the modern program, though I agree that ‘Family of Blood’ and ‘The Doctor Dances’ are both lousy endings to otherwise good stories. Surely that invalidates the nomination, right?

What do you think missed the list?


Joe Quesada gives a rare and candid guided tour of the Marvel offices


Raiders of the Lost Ark… 1951 Style


Spider-Man 4 release date, return of Kirsten Dunst and IMAX format all confirmed in one day

Kirsten Dunst Is Back For Spider-Man 4!

Spider-Man 4 Gets Release Date

Spidey is officially coming back to the big screen! Spider Man 4 has finally gotten a release date. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the fourth installment will arrive on Thursday, May 5th, 2011.

SPIDER-MAN 4 Spins a Web of a Enormous Size in IMAX in May 2011

And what’s this about Spider-Man and Thor fighting at the box office?

Marvel movie competition: Spider-Man’s release date pits it against the Thor movie!

Spidey fights Thor?

While the fans obviously benefit from a summer filled with superhero smackdowns, keep in mind that Spidey and Thor may live in the same comic universe but have different movie homes (Sony for Spidey, Marvel/Paramount for Thor). In the past Spidey climbed to as much as $400 million thanks to a lack of serious comic character competition. Will Mjolnir manage to damage Peter Parker’s pockets?


Dark Reign: The List – X-Men Preview

WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILS: Alan Davis
INKS: Mark Farmer
COLORED BY: Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERED BY: VC – Joe Caramagna
The fallout of UTOPIA begins here. What else could Norman Osborn possibly do to the X-Men? Plus, Matt Fraction’s first Marvel story featuring the X-Men! 48 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T …$3.99

It has been interesting and odd seeing Namor become part of the X-Men family. As ‘the first mutant’ of Marvel Comics (stated as a marketing ploy on 1990 for John Byrne’s Namor series) the potential has always existed to fold the Sub-Mariner into the X-books but to finally see it as a reality is bizarre.


Jonah Hex writer Jimmy Palmiotti on Marvel/Disney and DC Entertainment

MARVEL/DISNEY: I think this is a good thing. Simply because Joe Quesada and I were working at Marvel when they were in Chapter 11 and saw a lot of people lose their jobs and worry about things that were not the content of the books. And with us doing the Marvel Knights line at the time, it was added pressure for everyone. I look at this deal and I see a fantastic future for the characters and the creators to expand and grow with the company. Doesn’t Disney own a few studios and TV channels? Well… I am guessing they now have over 5,000 characters to pick from and develop some cool shows and games and so on and they will need guys like me to help out at some point… at the very least, they will make more work for everyone.


So much for the cabal of supervillains…

The Dark Avengers Meet Their Doom In December


Director Jonathan Mostow Explains the Difference Between Surrogates and Terminator

Awkwardly, I must admit that I only recently discovered this movie but already I am very excited about it. A unique blend of comic book style and sci-fi concept could produce a brilliant flick. Oh and it was filmed in a cluster of depressed mill towns of Massachussetts.


‘Smallville’ exclusive: Julian Sands is (Young) Jor-El

Sources confirm to me exclusively that Smallville has cast Julian Sands (24, Warlock, a million other things) to play a young Jor-El. He’ll make his debut in the November episode “Kandor” when it’s revealed that he arrived with Zod and the other Kandorians.

It is so bizarre to see Julian Sands in anything commercially viable but I’m happy to see the strange actor dip his toes into the world of comic book entertainment. What’s next? Dr Stange? Dr Doom in the suspected Fantastic Four revamp?


tweet from MST3K and rifftrax’s Mike Nelson:
michaeljnelsonRecording Dragon Wars today. And it does indeed feel like going off to war.


Teens discover suspected Warwolf, promptly beat it to death

A group of excitable, and violent, teens in Panama may have saved our planet from other-dimensional invasion.

According to media reports, the kids were playing in a town north of Panama City when they saw a grotesque, hairless creature emerge from a cave. So what did they do?

Why, they beat it to death, of course.

This is not the franchise my mother warned me about…

So a fourth Terminator film is on its way. No, really. And it stars Christian ‘B.A. Batman’ Bale as freedom fighter John Connor. It’s the first Terminator film actually set in the war torn future rather than the frankly boring present tense and it will feature lots of killer robots… and no Governor Schwartzenegger.

McG has been hunting for a major action film for years now. Bumped from Superman, he now finds himself with Terminator, the franchise once loved by many and now half-remembered by few. It’s all down to the third installment which was a great big so what for both fans and critics (this reminds me of Chris Nolan’s argument for not mounting a third Batman film). Faced with the prospect of reviving a concept that had lost its way, the Charlie’s Angels director went to the big guns, courted James Cameron (creator of the Terminator) and approached Bale to star. Neither were exactly sold on the idea, so McG refined the script until it appealed to them. He even enlisted brilliant monster designer Stan Winston who was a part of the project before he sadly passed. Now armed with Cameron’s blessing and one of the most celebrated action actors in the business today, he is determined to make this movie work. You can say a lot of things about the guy, but he’s going about this the right way. Personally I became interested when Bale signed on. Honestly, if Christian Bale were in GI Joe, I’d be first in line.


The Terminator was once actually about something, believe it or not, and spoke not only to the horror and worry of nuclear annihilation but also to the the prospect of the future of humanity. McG apparently wants to go back to the idea behind the movie and ask ‘Where exactly are we headed and what will we look like when we get there?’ For a populace addicted to escapism through entertainment, pharmaceuticals or any number of things, you have to wonder if anyone will actually be living in the future at all or in their own private world.

“One of our big themes is asking, where does humanity lie?” McG said. “If you have an artificial hip, or an artificial heart, you’re still human, right? Well, where does that line end up being drawn? We’re flirting with the point now to where it’s not necessarily science fiction anymore. It’s a real issue and part of what this film does is explore that question.”

The latest movie is part one of three… if it works. When the coming soon list of movies is a rehash of films, toys or cartoons from the 1980’s, it’s difficult to know what to think about the future. It may shock young readers to learn that science fiction used to actually be about ideas, not just impressive digital effects (or remakes of better movies from the 50’s). With no flying cars, moon bases or treks into outer space slated for the coming decade, maybe it’s the perfect time to take another glimpse at the horror of science fiction.

The Terminator Dark Horse Omnibus, Vol. 1 (in the 90’s, these comics were quite something)
The Outer Limits Original Series Complete Box Set
(even if just to watch the episode ‘Soldier’ which Terminator owes a LOT to)
The Terminator (Special Edition)

The Apocalypse Can Be A Beautiful Place

Thanks to Nostradamus, Chris Claremont and James Cameron, we tend to view the apocalypse as a bad thing. From robot revolutions to atomic wars, the future seems to be nothing but trouble.

A 2007 interview with novelist Alan Weisman (author of The World without Us) in an issue of Scientific American has a different tale to tell.

“What would happen to all of our stuff if we weren’t here anymore? Could nature wipe out all of our traces? Are there some things that we’ve made that are indestructible or indelible? Could nature, for example, take New York City back to the forest that was there when Henry Hudson first saw it in 1609?

“There are places in Manhattan where they’re constantly fighting rising underground rivers that are corroding the tracks. You stand in these pump rooms, and you see an enormous amount of water gushing in. And down there in a little box are these pumps, pumping it away. So, say human beings disappeared tomorrow. One of the first things that would happen is that the power would go off. A lot of our power comes out of nuclear or coal-fired plants that have automatic fail-safe switches to make sure that they don’t go out of control if no humans are monitoring their systems. Once the power goes off, the pumps stop working. Once the pumps stop working, the subways start filling with water. Within 48 hours you’re going to have a lot of flooding in New York City. Some of this would be visible on the surface. You might have some sewers overflowing. Those sewers would very quickly become clogged with debris—in the beginning the innumerable plastic bags that are blowing around the city and later, if nobody is trimming the hedges in the parks, you’re going to have leaf litter clogging up the sewers.

“But what would be happening underground? Corrosion. Just think of the subway lines below Lexington Avenue. You stand there waiting for the train, and there are all these steel columns that are holding up the roof, which is really the street. These things would start to corrode and, eventually, to collapse. After a while the streets would begin cratering, which could happen within just a couple of decades. And pretty soon, some of the streets would revert to the surface rivers that we used to have in Manhattan before we built all of this stuff.”(more here)

It’s an interestingly beautiful view of a world devoid of humanity with parks, glades and wild wood taking root where once Yahoo! billboards and ATM kiosks lived. Why would a world without people be such a very bad place, anyhow? Just think, no more CMA Awards, no more tabloid press and no more junk mail.

In sci-fi and comic books the future is often depicted as a kind of dead end of ideas. The streets are run by gangs, our heroes are straggled old and tired, and the villains have prevailed. Yet isn’t it very human to look into the future and see only a selfish vision of reality rather than a selfless one? What if our problems simply did not matter anymore and the world had just moved on? Wouldn’t that be something?

The best part is that it is ineviatble. Humanity is making the planet Earth unihabitable every day for itself, but who’s to say that Nature will not prevail in the end?

Too bad we won’t live to see it.

Raquel Welch: Space Girl (1970)

Dressed in Bob Macki outfits and dancing in front of sculptures from the Ruta de la Amistad public sculpture project at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City… you may notice a sexy space girl outfitted Raquel Welch doing a go-go routine from her self-titled 1970 variety special.

Sometimes sci-fi is just amazing, ain’t it?

Sir Richard Branson unveils Space Plane

Virgin Galactic unveils space-plane model

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — A select group of rich tourists may be blasting into space within a few years in a craft that looks like a cross between a corporate jet and something out of science fiction.

British billionaire Richard Branson and the aerospace designer Burt Rutan unveiled a model Wednesday of SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle they hope will be able to take passengers about 62 miles above Earth for the fun of it, with test flights possibly beginning this year.

“Breathtakingly beautiful” was Branson’s assessment of the ship being built in the Mojave Desert.

At the American Museum of Natural History, the pair also showed off a model of the four-engine jet that will help launch the craft into space.

More here

So, casual trips to the Moon are a reality now? What next? Going to work via helicopter? Getting a robot maid named Rosie?

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Elvis fans pay tribute: Spend time reminiscing about the King at local celebrations
By Molly Gilmore
The annual Elvis Birthday Bash celebrates Elvis Presley’s birth, not his death.This year, the bash – a celebration as much about Elvis impersonators than the man himself – includes a sneak preview screening of a new documentary called “How He Should Have Died.””One man paid the ultimate tribute, by leaving this world in a blaz e of glory, the way many top El vis fans say Elvis should have,” press material trumpets.The man, Larry Hass, was an Elvis impersonator who died in 2004 while performing at the Elvis Explosion in La Crosse, Wis.

The documentary focuses on him and his passion for Elvis.

“La Crosse has really no connection to Elvis, except it’s become a big draw because of this festival,” said David Ross, a co-producer of “How He Should Have Died” as well as “Almost Elvis,” about the impersonators.

“It’s the home of the world’s largest Green Bay Packers sports bar, so it’s kind of a funny cross section of America,” he added.

After Hass’s death, Ross said, people kept asking the filmmakers if they wanted to do a documentary about him.

Through time, they realized that they did.

“It became more and more appa rent that it could be a really interesting, heartwarming, fun story to tell, just hearing from his friends and family and Elvis fans,” he said.

Saturday’s screenings of both films will include performances by world-champion Elvis impersonator Robert Washington, a costume contest and fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches.

You also can see Washington on Friday night at The Brotherhood and Sunday morning at Plenty.

Washington is known in the Elvis world for his onstage flips, his athletic dancing and his powerful voice.

Fans definitely get excited about his performances.

“You get the screams and stuff, but I’m sure it’s not the same magnitude as Elvis got,” Washington said in a past interview for The Olympian. “A little bit, and I’m happy.”

Elvis birthday bash 2008

What: The eighth annual celebration features a performance by Elvis impersonator Robert Washington; a 6 p.m. screening of the documentary “Almost Elvis;” a sneak preview of the new “How He Should Have Died” at 9 p.m.; fried peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches and birthday cake; a costume contest; a velvet Elvis art show and more.

When: 6 p.m. Saturday January 19th
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. S.E., Olympia

More info

Elvis trooperRevered as a modern day saint of pop culture and King of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley has long enjoyed a place in the American psyche as a kind of touchstone. He means many things to many people, but he is without a doubt one of the most electric personalities to ever hold a microphone.

Immortalized in many formats, he is not without his fans in science fiction (rock ‘n’ roll author Mick Farren practically anointed Elvis as a saint of the American Dream) and comic books (Pope Elvis’ robes are clearly revered in Matt Wagner‘s Grendel series).

And who can overlook the marriage of Star Wars and the King that is the Elvis Trooper?

But this Elvis Celebration takes the cake.

Man… I wish I could be there just to see King’s audience take over the town.