Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 Must Read 50s SF Books

I'll admit I've been a lazy toady lately.  I blame the heat.  But also I've spent the past week doing a few domestic things as well that I won't bore you with, plus I still need to continue weeding my flower beds which is totally out of control.   We really need a good rain, but the forecast isn't predicting any.  I noticed some brown spots in my yard, and turned on the auto sprinkler system, but it didn't seem to be working properly, so had to look into that.  I finally, finally figured out what was wrong with it by Googling (thank you Google, computers are awesome) the brand I have with is a Hunter Pro C.   Somehow it was programmed for an interval run, and I don't even know what that is, but it was.  So I changed it to regular run and reprogrammed it all over again.  It works now, huzzah!  Yay me!
I was in Walmart the other day and noticed they came out with a new 50th Anniversary edition of  Star Trek: TOS remastered and in spiffy new packaging.  They had all three seasons, but I only needed Season 2 for my collection.  They were around $15. a pop, which I thought was reasonable so picked it up.  Season 2 comes with all 26 remastered episodes, and Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest:  Rare home movies and Special Memories Part 2, the More Tribbles, More Trouble episode from the Trek Animated series, and Trials and Tribble-ations from the Deep Space Nine episode.  So I splurged.  It would be nice to have the other Trek: TOS series like this too, but I'm okay with what I've got.  The First Season I have is just like it was broadcast, without the remastering, but I'm old enough to watch and remember the older show and effects.

Aside from that I've been binge-watching the Game of Thrones Season 5 from Netflix, which is still an amazing series.  I bought one of those Roku stick devices as a friend told me about the Pluto Channel (which actually you can watch on the web, but I prefer to streamed it on my TV).  The Pluto Channel has various programming for a geek like me.  It has retro SF movies, cartoons, a MST3K streaming channel and other things.  I caught the movies Godzilla Revenge aka Attack All Monsters last weekend off of it, and watched a bit of G. I. Blues with Elvis Presley last night among a few other things.

I also have been binge watching Dark Shadows.   I was not the kid that ran home from school to watch the program, if so I might have been a marathon runner as my house was pretty far from the high school I went to.  Aside from that during '66 I got a paper route.  A kid in the neighborhood told me he was quitting and asked me if I wanted to do it.  I asked my parents and they agreed, so I became an entrepreneur.  My first job aside from mowing lawns.  My parents never gave us an allowance, but they'd let us go see movies, and provided us adequately with clothes, an education and the necessities of life.  I had great parents.  But for the other stuff like music and the additional clothes and the whatevers of life that I wanted, I bought them by working.  So I didn't watch Dark Shadows in the afternoons, I was out delivering newspapers, and by and large I enjoyed that.

I didn't discover Dark Shadows until the SciFi Channel started showing them on TV around the 90s (you know, back when they were a good channel).   It was cool.  They showed old Tom Baker,  Dr. Who episodes, The Prisoner, Time Tunnel, anime I never heard of or seen before, and other SF programming that I'd long forgotten about or never knew of.  WTF happened!!?  Now they are a horrible channel with lousy movies and series.  Sharkcraboctopuss, fuhgeddaboutit!

Anyway for a while in the 90s they showed Dark Shadows, and although they only showed maybe a half year's season or so, it drew me in the Gothic soap opera and characters.  I can see how others got hooked.  When I started re-watching them again, I got hooked all over again.  I'm sure I'll save watching many episodes of this series for the fall and winter and for around Halloween.

Anyway ran across this list of the 10 Must Read Science Fiction Books From the 1950s.  They had Tiger Tiger on it, or better known as The Stars My Destination from Alfred Bester, which I loved reading.  It's a SF revenge tale about a guy left for dead stranded in space.  The main character, Gully Foyle, makes it back to earth and then it's time for whoop ass.  Pretty good novel.  Some of the books on that list I have not read, but might have to add them to my "must read" ever growing list.  Sigh.







Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Best Animated & SF Films

I ran across this today and thought I'd share.  I can pretty much agree with it, though I might rank the animated films a bit differently if at all.  In fact I'd have a hard time ranking them due to my mood for which ever day I might view them.  What I will say is that it's a good list, and I haven't seen everything on it yet either.  I do like #5 and #7 a lot.  I like Kung Fu Panda a lot too and How To Train Your Dragon.  I probably would have Big Hero 6 on my personal list along with Howl's Moving Castle, and probably Shrek.   I think they were going  more diversification, and that's cool.    Here's the list.  
The same is true for their SF list.  I haven't seen them all, but I've seen a great many of them.  Most of them I agree with, some aren't my cup of tea, but that's par normal.  I've seen the movie Monsters, and it's low budget, I guess they did it fairly, but it was a bit forgettable as are a few others.   That's the way that most list go, however, I commend them for making both list, and generally agree with them.  Here's the SF list. 








Friday, July 15, 2016

Raumschiff Orion

I don't know much at all about this obscure German SF series other than it was made in 1966 and lasted only 7 episodes and are around an hour in length.  I've not watched it yet either as I just ran across it today on the web.  From what I gather, it is Germany's classic Space Opera series and launched just before Star Trek: TOS and has a similar cult status (at least in the European countries).  Produced in a serious tone with the famous German actor, Dietmar Schonherr, and then discontinued after only the one short season due to it being too costly to produce.  I've also read that today it's dated as one might surmise though for diehard SF fans cheesiness never deterred any true fan. 

IMDb says:   Commander McLane and the crew of the fast space cruiser Orion patrol Earth's outposts and colonies in space and defend humanity from the alien 'Frogs'.

The poster, Raumpilot Rudy,  who was gracious enough to post some of the episodes on Youtube  further states:  Raumpatrouille -- Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion (literal translation: Space Patrol -- The Fantastic Adventures of the Spaceship Orion), also known as Raumpatrouille Orion, and Space Patrol Orion in English, was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning 17 September 1966, six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972).

In the series nations no longer exist and Earth is united. Flying saucers, such as spaceship Orion, are flown by humans, whilst the aliens fly fighter jet-like contraptions. The titular ship of the series title, "Spaceship Orion", (German: "Raumschiff Orion") is portrayed as being a fast space cruiser (German: Schneller Raumkreuzer), the newest starship in mankind's fleet and the fastest spacecraft ever created by humans.

In an entertaining and ironic way the show tells the story of the American Commander Cliff Allister McLane (Dietmar Schönherr), an Earth starship captain and his loyal crew. He is Orion's commander in the developing war against an alien race called the Frogs. He is notoriously defiant towards his superiors.

 What sounds like a fairy tale today, may be tomorrow's reality. Here's a fairy tale from the day after tomorrow. There are no more nations. Only humanity and its colonies in space. Distant stars have been settled. The ocean beds are inhabited. Space ships cross the galaxy at unimaginable speeds. One such ship is the Orion. A small link in a great chain of defense against threats from space. Let's join Orion and her crew on patrol at the edges of infinity...

There are six episodes up over at Youtube.  Here's the first one, and you can find the others over there as well.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Splotch

The photos above were taken by me.  I've turned to photography to open up a little bit more creativity in my mind.  It seems to help though I don't know completely where I'm going with it.  Still I enjoy getting out and taking photos.  The bottom photo of a doorway was altered via a Paint/Photoshop type program.  I just got two photos that were accepted into the downtown gallery here.  I'm honored to have been chosen, but I'd like to find a way to get my art outside our small town here.  I figure the more exposure the better.  I'm in the process of searching that info down on the net. 

Anyway check out the video below by a James Kalm.  I love his videos on YT.  He goes around NYC shooting his videos sort of in a gorilla-style,  commenting on technique, and whatever he might know about the artist, and so forth.  I'm surprised a bit as I didn't think galleries would allow such things, but some do apparently. 


Below is a poem I wrote:

She Waits in Colors


Picasso's daughter sits waiting
in cubist thoughts

wondering when her father will
arrive, again to fill

the staccato moments
with smells of oil and turpentine

blending the air with his laughter
and colorful tales

of bullfights dabbed red and myths
of sailors casting out their dark nets
or lost at sea.

They'll eat fruit from the wooden bowl
positioned still life on the table.

He'll kiss her forehead
and she'll go out to play. 

Picking up his brush
he'll start his new day.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Maschinen Krieger

[From Wikipedia]

Maschinen Krieger (Ma.K ZBV3000) is a science universe created by Japanese artist and sculptor Kow Yokoyama in the 1980s.

The franchise originally began as the science fiction series SF3D which ran as monthly installments in the Japanese hobby magazine Hobby Japan from 1982 to 1985. To develop the storyline, Kow Yokoyama collaborated with Hiroshi Ichimura as story editor and Kunitaka Imai as graphic designer. The three creators drew visual inspiration from their combined interest in World War I and World War II armor and aircraft, the American space program and films such as Star Wars, Blade Runner and The Road Warrior. Inspired by the ILM model builders who worked on Star Wars, Yokoyama built the original models from numerous kits including armor, aircraft, and automobiles. He mostly concentrated on powered armor suits, but later included bipedal walking tanks and aircraft with anti-gravity systems.

In 1986, there was a dispute with Hobby Japan over the copyright of the series. The magazine dropped SF3D from its line-up of articles and Nitto ceased production of various kits of the series. The matter was tied up in the courts for years until Yokoyama was awarded the full copyright to the series in the 1990s. Yokoyama and Hobby Japan eventually reconciled and restarted their working relationship, ditching the old SF3D name in favor of Maschinen Krieger ZbV3000, otherwise known as Ma.K.

 Much confusion surrounds the details of the franchise's background story, partly because the original Japanese source material has never been officially or skillfully translated.
A nuclear World War IV in 2807 kills most of Earth's population and renders the planet uninhabitable. Fifty-two years after the war, a research team from an interstellar union called the Galactic Federation is sent to Earth and discovers that the planet's natural environment has restored itself. The Federation decides to repopulate the planet and sends over colonists to the surface. Cities and towns are eventually reformed over the next 20 years, but this growth attracts the attention of criminals, military deserters, and other lawless elements who wanted to hide on Earth--away from the authorities. A few militias protect the colonists, but the new interlopers often defeat them.
Fearing civil unrest and the colonists forming their own government, the Federation gives the Strahl Democratic Republic (SDR) the right to govern the planet in the late 2870s. The SDR sends three police battalions and three Foreign Legion corps to Earth and uses heavy-handed tactics such as travel restrictions and hard labor camps to restore order, which creates resentment amongst the colonists. In response, the colonists create the Earth Independent Provisional Government and declare independence from the SDR. The SDR immediately establishes a puppet government and attempts to quell the uprising. The wealthy colonists hire mercenaries who are descendants of WWIV veterans to form the Independent Mercenary Army (IMA), which is bolstered by the presence of SDR Foreign Legion defectors. They attack the SDR forces and the battle to control Earth begins in 2882.
Over the next four years, the SDR and IMA fight each other at several locations worldwide while developing new technology along the way. The war turns up a notch in June 2883 when the IMA deploys a new weapon - the Armored Fighting Suit powered armor - to devastating effect. The SDR eventually builds their own AFS units.

In the last SF3D installment published in the December 1986 issue of Hobby Japan, the IMA successfully defeats the new SDR Königs Kröte unmanned command-and-control mecha using a computer virus that also creates a new artificial intelligence system on the moon.

Model kits:  Fan interest from the installments in Hobby Japan resulted in a small Japanese model company, Nitto, securing the license and quickly released 21 injection molded kits from the series during its entire run in the magazine. Most of the Nitto model kits are in 1:20 scale, while others were made in 1:76 and 1:6 scale. Production of the kits stopped with the end of the Hobby Japan features in 1986, but Nitto reissued many of the original kits under the Maschinen Krieger name, albeit with new decals and box art. Some of the original Nitto kits such as the Krachenvogel are highly sought after by collectors. The Nitto models were also the basis for similar offerings from Japanese model companies Wave and ModelKasten. Wave, in particular, is currently producing original-tooled kits of various subjects in the franchise, such as the Armored Fighting Suits powered armor. Smaller companies such as Brick Works and Love Love Garden have made limited resin pilot figures to go with these model kits.

The Film: 
Yokoyama collaborated with Tsuburaya Productions to create a live-action SF3D film using miniatures in 1985. Directed by Shinichi Ohoka from a script penned by co-producer Hisao Ichikura, the 25-minute SF3D Original Video opens with wreckage left from a battle in the Australian desert on Christmas Day 2884 before focusing on a badly damaged IMA SAFS unit. The pilot, Cpl Robert Bush (Tristan Hickey), who is still alive, seeks to get his armored suit back and running and leave the battle area, which is under heavy jamming. Seeing two of the SDR's new Nutrocker (Nutcracker) robot hovertanks arrive nearby, Bush tries to hide, but bodily functions give him away. One Nutcracker gives chase and the SAFS AI points out to Bush how to defeat it. He eventually clambers on to the tank, which passes through the rubble of a town and randomly shoots at high places to bring down objects that could snag him. With the SAFS' right arm sheared off by the Nutcracker's laser blasts and snow settling in, Bush is knocked unconscious all night long from the fall while the tank breaks down under the cold. The next day, the SAFS AI wakes up Bush because the Nutcracker is active again and is preparing to kill him. Bush gets up and faces the tank as it charges towards him. However, the Nutcracker gets too close to a cliff that buckles under its weight and Bush fires his laser into the tank's underbelly. The tank plunges into a ravine and explodes. Bush walks away and reestablishes radio contact with his base. It is revealed that the battle was a field test of the SAFS, Bush's machine being the only survivor out of four deployed that day.

After the end credits roll, two other Nutcrackers arrive at the scene of the battle.

I couldn't find the video to paste it here, but if interested in watching the video, go here.