Archive for July, 2008

The Middleman: Information Overload

By Stephen Cass | July 31, 2008 4:45 pm

The Middleman logoAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become a big fan of The Middleman. Monday’s episode featured The Middleman and faithful sidekick Wendy Watson on the trail of a cursed tuba (being able to write plot summaries that feature the words “cursed tuba” is one the reason why I love this show). To assist the investigation, their robotic assistant Ida starts scanning the global telecommunications and surveillance networks for any mention of tubas. Not surprisingly, the next few scenes show our heroes slipping into near-comas of boredom as irrelevant hit after irrelevant hit piles up hour after hour. Interestingly enough, this is exactly the same problem that real super-high-tech spy agencies suffer from.

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MORE ABOUT: Echelon, NSA, The Middleman

Eureka Season Premiere

By Stephen Cass | July 30, 2008 6:07 pm

Screen capture from Euraka Season Three, Episode OneThe new season of Eureka kicked off last night with an episode titled “Bad to the Drone,” featuring a robotic aircraft that decides it doesn’t like being on the losing end of weapons testing and decides to take a more active role. In a strong start to the season, it falls to Sheriff Carter to bring the irritable machine back to the nest. It’s a timely episode as drones are very much on the military mind at the moment. Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, drones have been around since World War I, but it’s since the post 9/11 invasion of Afghanistan that they have emerged as a critical component of modern warfare.

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Comic-Con Video: The Science Behind Science Fiction Panel

By Stephen Cass | July 30, 2008 11:54 am

I have been laid low for the last few days by some dreadful lurgy I caught on the plane back from San Diego, but people have been hard at work behind the scenes putting together this edit of the video of our “Science Behind Science Fiction Panel” at this year’s Comic-con. From left to right you have Kevin Grazier (science advisor to Eureka and Battlestar Galactica), Jaime Paglia (co-creater and executive producer of Eureka), Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy blogger) and myself. We talked about how science makes its way into a script, how scientific accuracy is maintained (or not) and the value of retconning. Enjoy!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conferences, TV, Uncategorized

SciNoFi Comic-Con Roundup

By Sam Lowry | July 28, 2008 4:14 pm

eureka2.jpgIndependent observers confirm that our panel was “awesome.” Many, many thanks to Jaime Paglia (Eureka), Kevin Grazier (BSG) and our very own Phil Plait for making the magic happen.

We also went out for dinner with the Eureka writing crew, including Jaime Paglia and Eric Wallace. For the record, any time you want to go out for a few bottles of Sangiovese and a couple hours of talking about Doctor Who, Torchwood, Veronica Mars, the OC and Friday Night Lights, you can count me in. For the complete inside dope from Eric (including their potentially disastrous Comic Con A/V snafu), go to Eureka Unscripted.

More personal Comic Con highlights after the jump.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Comics, Conferences, Movies, TV
MORE ABOUT: Comic-con

Science behind Science Fiction Comic-Con panel

By Stephen Cass | July 25, 2008 2:42 pm

Eureka promotional graphicWe had a great panel yesterday chewing over how great science can make science fiction. Thanks to Jaime Paglia, co-creater and executive producer of Eureka (Eureka‘s third season premieres on the SCIFI channel on Tuesday), Kevin Grazier (science advisor to Eureka and Battlestar Galactica), and our very own Bad Astronomy blogger, Phil Plait.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to have some video from the panel before long: what’s clear is that on Battlestar and Eureka, while making a good show that people will want to watch is obviously their first priority, the producers and writers really do care about getting the science right — which means lots of grist for Science Not Fiction to blog about in the months to come. Yay!


Quantum Quest – Potentially Awesome?

By Sam Lowry | July 24, 2008 10:48 pm

Dave the PhotonThe hype machine was cranking in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con this afternoon for Quantum Quest, a 3-D animated feature about “Dave the photon” who leaves the sun to “save his people and save the Cassini spacecraft from the forces of fear and ignorance.”

Clearly, we wish these guys well. Nothing would make us happier at Discover than to have an astronomy movie written by NASA scientists penetrate the public consciousness in some meaningful way.

That being said, we hope they have a good editor, because the amount of information conveyed at this panel was overwhelming.

Here is just a small portion of my notes from the session: Read More


Comic Con – John Barrowman Rocks

By Sam Lowry | July 24, 2008 5:36 pm

torchwood.gifFirst of all, an insight (and some elementary logic) about Comic Con: Everybody loves Japanese stuff. Everybody loves porn. Everybody loves Japanese porn.

And onto the Torchwood panel:

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Comics, Conferences

The Other Battlestar

By Stephen Cass | July 24, 2008 4:08 pm

CylonJust out of a Comic-con panel celebrating 30 years of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Present were Richard Hatch (who plays Tom Zarek in the new series and played Apollo in the original); Bear McCreary (who composes the music for the show, and told us that Ron Moore was very specific, for reasons as yet unannounced but which will become clear, about using Dylan’s “Along the Watchtower” as the background music to the season three finale, in which four humans are revealed as cylons); Kevin Grazier (Battlestar’s science advisor and panelist on DISCOVER’s “Science in Science Fiction” panel later today); and, interestingly, Tom DeSanto (best known as the producer of X-Men and Transformers.)

DeSanto was just weeks away from filming his own TV relaunch of Battlestar Galactica in 2001: set construction had begun and FOX had agreed to a pilot. A confluence of events (including 9/11 and problems with X-Men 2) caused the deal with FOX to fall through. This series was intended to be a continuation of the 1979 show, not a complete re-imagining from the ground up, as happened in Ron Moore’s version. DeSanto sketched out the premise of this version: about five years after the end of the original series, the rag tag fleet had a vote and decided to stop searching for Earth, opting instead to build a giant spacestation near an asteroid field. Before long the Cylons are forgotten in the pursuit of commerce and “pleasure domes.” Until another twenty years pass and the Cylons return… Richard Hatch would also have returned in this version — this time as a human being converted into a Cylon hybrid.

One thing remains constant across all the continuations and re-imaginings: no one appears willing to resurrect Galactica 1980.


Preview Night at Comic-Con: Lovecraft Lives!

By Stephen Cass | July 24, 2008 2:20 am

Comic-Con LogoSo the DISCOVER gang has landed at Comic-Con, and forged our way through the madding crowd looking for the cool and quirky. Something that immediately grabbed my eye in amongst the smaller booths of the independent publishers here was The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, a serialized graphic novel.

I could only get my hands on the first issue, which the creators specially printed as a limited edition to coincide with Comic-con: they are currently negotiating with a publisher about whether or not to distribute The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft as serial or as a single bound novel.

Whatever the outcome of these negotiations, I hope they get it into stores soon, as from what I’ve seen, it’s a terrific voyage into the twisted worlds of Lovecraftian fiction. I’m a big fan of Lovecraft, and even though his work may superficially seem dated, being mostly set in the 1920’s, the themes still resonate strongly today — how do we cope with a universe that is bigger and more mysterious than we can ever truly comprehend?

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California Here We Come

By Sam Lowry | July 22, 2008 5:26 pm

dexter_morgan.jpgIn case we haven’t plugged this Comic Con thing enough: our Science Behind the Science Fiction panel is Thursday at 5:30 and features Jaime Paglia (Eureka), Kevin Grazier (Eureka, BSG) and Phil Plait (our beloved Bad Astronomer talking about a very special episode of Dr. Who).

I will also take the opportunity here for a gratuitous swipe at a panel occurring at the same time as ours: Dexter. While I loved Michael C. Hall on Six Feet Under, why is this show at Comic Con? Is Dexter a comic book? Is it science fiction? Is it fantasy? The answer to all of these questions, of course, is no. And haven’t we had enough of serial killers, anti-heroes or not?

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MORE ABOUT: Comic-con, Eureka

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