Mars

SATURDAY AFTERNOON B-MOVIE CRAPFEST: “Conquest of Space” (1955)

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Back in June I reviewed George Pal’s first Science Fiction film, “Destination Moon” (Here:
http://www.republibot.com/content/classic-sf-movie-review-%E2%80%9Cdesti... ) a movie with some fairly profound pacing problems and spotty acting, but a heart as big as all outdoors. Ridley Scott once said that he wanted to be “The John Ford of Science Fiction Cinema,” though really Pal had already filled that role. Pal’s career went onward and upward from “moon,” cranking out a new eye-popping Science Fiction film every year, each one more successful than the rest. I had hoped to review all of his movies in the order they were released so we could sort of chart his progression as a film maker, but I guess that isn’t gonna’ happen, so let’s just jump right to the bitter end of his surprising run of successful films with “Conquest of Space.”

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THIS USED TO BE THE FUTURE: "Mars, 1950s Style!"

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Man, you really have to hand it to Walt Disney: The man went beyond just typical mid-century American enthusiasm about the future, he was clearly obsessive about it. This came to fruition in the tense days following the launch of Sputnik (October 1957), in which America - caught flatfooted - struggled to figure out how to make sense of what this new "Space Age" meant.

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THIS USED TO BE THE FUTURE: Trips to Mars, 1950s style

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A short disney film showing 1950s concepts for trips to the red planet under the jump. You've got to hand it to Walt. I can't imagine a more dedicated futurian, he acutally used his considerable industrial and media resources to plug this kind of stuff and make it really exciting and interesting and understandable for ma and pa kettle.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Voyage” by Stephen Baxter (1996)

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Best. Alternate. History. Novel. Ever.

Seriously: Best. Alternate. History. Novel. Ever. Period. End Sentence.

I love alternate history novels. I like a window in to worlds where established history traveled down a different road from our own. I love visions of the myriad different ways the modern world could have turned out. I adore the questions of identity arise when you see how people could have turned out differently had they lived through altered circumstances.

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CLASSIC SCIENCE FICTION BOOK REVIEW: “Gods of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1918)

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I’d been holding off of the “John Carter of Mars” series for pretty much my entire life since it always seemed kind of dumb and beneath me. It sounded like “Conan the Barbarian” set in space, and that’s just not my bag (Though to be fair, the “Gor” series is more like Conan the Barbarian in space). Just the same when I finally got around to reading the first book I have to say the purple prose and breathless excitement of it won me over.

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REAL SPACE: NASA’s ongoing PR Problem

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It’s looking bad for the possibility of life on Mars. Our rapidly-increasing pool of information has produced not one single iota of evidence of past life, and has shown that the Martian Ocean was perhaps as much as 100 TIMES more saline than the Earth’s oceans are. http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2008/529/1?rss=1 On a personal note, I love this kind of stuff. Why? Well, because NASA has got it in their heads that the only way the government will fund space exploration is if they find evidence of life, and that “That will make it relevant to the common man.”

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Science Fiction Book Review #1: "Rainbow Mars" by Larry Niven (1999)

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From about 1969 to about 1973 Niven wrote five deliberately goofy stories about a time traveler from the middle of the thirty-first century. His job is to retrieve extinct animals from the past – and in the year 3050 pretty much all animals are extinct excepting people and dogs – and bring them to a private United Nations zoo. Hilarity ensues. Well, ‘Hilarity’ might be overstating it, but they are cute funny little stories that aren’t perhaps as tight as one would normally expect from Niven, but that’s part of their charm.

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