Jan 022015
 
Isaac Asimov

By Nur Hussein, staff writer

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov with his majestic mutton chops.

Isaac Asimov was the first science fiction author I ever read. His stories were a huge part of my childhood, and enthralled little me like nobody else could; he wrote of space empires and robots, and it wasn’t just pulp adventure.  All the stories were deeply laced with big ideas. I couldn’t put the books down, and they transported me to distant worlds and far-off times.

Asimov was born in Russia in 1920, though he doesn’t quite know the exact date but he celebrates it on January 2nd. His birth name was Isaak Yudovich Ozimov, which was transliterated to Isaac Asimov, though the ‘s’ in Asimov should have been a ‘z.’ He even wrote a short story titled Spell My Name With An S based on this little fact, about a character who changes a single letter of his name from an ‘z’ to a ‘s,’ thus triggering a series of global events.

Asimov’s family immigrated to the United States when he was three, and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen at the age of eight. His fascination for science fiction began reading pulp magazines in his family’s store at an early age, and by the time he reached his teens he was already writing stories of his own. The first time he tried submitting a story was in June 1938 to the editor of sci-fi magazine Astounding Science Fiction, John W. Campbell. Campbell rejected the story, but encouraged the young Asimov to keep writing. Asimov’s first published story was called Marooned Off Vesta, which appeared in the March 1939 issue of another science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories. Thus began a prolific sci-fi writing career.

Asimov attended college at a branch of Columbia University in the field of chemistry. After failing to get into medical school, he received a graduate degree in Columbia where he eventually got a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He joined the Boston University School of Medicine as a professor, and he remained tenured there. Asimov’s papers from 1965 onwards are archived at the university’s Mugar Memorial Library. Imagine my delight at discovering this when I attended Boston University!

Book cover art depicting Hari Seldon, mathematician hero of the Foundation.

Book cover art depicting Hari Seldon, mathematician hero of the Foundation.

Not counting individual essays and short stories, Asimov wrote over 500 books and manuscripts in his lifetime. He wrote both fiction and non-fiction, with the bulk of his non-fiction being popular science. For his science fiction, he is known for his robot stories, where Asimov posits his now-famous Three Laws of Robotics. The word “robotics” itself is something he coined for his stories, and one of Asimov’s legacies is that it is an actual field of study now.

His other famous sci-fi epic is the Foundation series, where he describes a rise of a galactic government called the Foundation, which is founded on the principles of the invented science of psychohistory: a branch of mathematics that can predict future outcomes of a sufficiently large population. Foundation was inspired by Asimov’s readings of  Edward Gibbons’ The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which he playfully discloses in a poem with the line, “a little bit of cribbin’ from the works of Edward Gibbon.” Later, Asimov retconned the Foundation stories to be in the same continuity as his Galactic Empire and robot books, and many of his novels form a loose continuity in an Asimov-verse.

Asimov’s writing style is one focused on clarity and ideas. Thus, occasionally character development and descriptive settings take a back seat to the conceptual aspect of the story. While literary critics might frown on such non-ornamental writing, it made his writing accessible, and thus also the ideas contained therein.

Asimov’s stories have inspired countless authors, filmmakers and scholars. Paul Krugman was inspired by psychohistory to enter the field of economics, and eventually won the Nobel Prize in the field. Asimov’s books have been made into feature films, most notably The Bicentennial Man starring the late Robin Williams (there was also the rather atrocious “adaptation” of I, Robot with Will Smith but I’m not counting that). The idea of a Galactic Empire, with its capital being a planet covered entirely by a city, was used by George Lucas in his Star Wars films. The idea first appeared in Asimov’s books.

Asimov died in 1992, from complications arising from an HIV infection from a blood transfusion during surgery that he underwent in 1983. He is sorely missed by fans of science fiction, and remains one of the legends of the genre. However, he left behind a huge treasure trove of written works in his lifetime, and no matter how many times you’ve read or re-read his works, you can always go back to Asimov’s writings and find a familiar voice, always with something interesting to say.

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Dec 202014
 
shotgunArcana

Tune in tonight at 9:00 p.m. PST for this week’s episode of The Event Horizon featuring science fantasy novelist R.S. Belcher, author of The Shotgun Arcana from TOR Books. Join your hosts Gene Turnbow and Susan Fox as we discuss this sequel to his previous work, Six-Gun Tarot. It’s an ensemble cast in a wild twisting tale of a small godforsaken town called Golgotha, in which everybody has a secret. Sometimes that secret is just one of lineage or bad behavior, but often it’s metaphysical or arcane. There are men of science, practitioners of mystical arts, and at least one severed living head in a jar. Did we mention that the town sheriff is a were-coyote? You get the idea.

 

About R.S. Belcher

Science fantasy author R. S. Belcher

Science fantasy author R. S. Belcher

R.S. (Rod) Belcher is an award-winning newspaper and magazine editor and reporter. Rod has been a private investigator, a D.J., a comic book store owner and has degrees in criminal law, psychology and justice and risk administration, from Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s done Masters work in Forensic Science at The George Washington University, and worked with the Occult Crime Taskforce for the Virginia General Assembly. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia with his children: Jonathan and Emily.

If you miss tonight’s broadcast, you have another opportunity to hear it again tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. PST and 4:00 p.m. PST, as well as additional times throughout the coming week. Consult our What’s on When page for show times in your area.

The Event Horizon – it’s Sci-Fi for your Wi-fi!

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Dec 012014
 
Dina Kampmeyer may have gone a little nuts making police box pillows!

craftacular logo

The League of Extraordinary Ladies (LxL), Chrissy Lynn, and Clockwork Couture are hosting the fourth annual Craftacularstravaganza (the WHAT?), this Saturday, December 6, 2014. In short, it’s a craft bazaar focused on geeky artisan crafts and Clockwork Couture’s storefront will be open for your holiday shopping pleasure, as well. Oh, myyy! At present, there are 18 artisans participating in the event, selling everything from cake balls to jewelry, hats and other accessories, and bath products. Oh, and Clockwork Couture will be having a storewide sale, too!  It’s a great start to your geeky holiday shopping, and, let’s face it, a nice opportunity to support small business while treating yourself, too.

Who’s going to be there?

Dina Kampmeyer, co-founder of The League of Extraordinary Ladies and organizer of the event said, “The Craftacularstravaganza has become more than just a shopping event; it’s a community gathering of geeks where you can find old friends and meet new ones. I think it’s so important to support small businesses at this time of year, and what better way to do that than to shop small and geeky!”

Clockwork Couture has a life-sized TARDIS where visitors can pose for photos, so be sure to bring your camera! Also, While the storefront and some of the vendors accept credit and debit cards, some vendors can only accept cash, so come prepared to shop hard, nosh well, and have a great time with your fellow geeks at this family-friendly event! The Craftacularstravaganza will be open from noon to 4:00 p.m. Pacific at Clockwork Couture, 707 South Main Street, Burbank, California 91506.

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Nov 292014
 
A frame from Consortium
A frame from Consortium

A frame from Consortium

We’ve got a great show for you this evening. Starting at 9:00 p.m. Pacific, tune in to Krypton Radio to hear The Event Horizon with our special guest, Gregory MacMartin of Interdimensional Games, as we discuss Consortium. Set on a high-tech aircraft in an alternate universe future, Consortium sets the new gold standard in science fiction adventure games.

Gregory MacMartin is the producer of Consortium. He and his brother Steve came up with the idea seven years ago, and in 2013 launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to create the game. Their team of writers, programmers and designers built the game at their studio in Vancouver, Canada. It’s unlike any other sci-fi RPG game you might have played before:

  • There are an estimated 3,300-3,500 total lines of dialogue in CONSORTIUM, split between 21 characters.
  • There is not a single character (NPC) within the game of whom you cannot speak to. That is A LOT for a game almost entirely based in a single location; CONSORTIUM really will feel like “Interactive Die Hard on a plane.”
  • Every single character in CONSORTIUM (including the “generic enemy”) have at least 100 lines of dialogue, some of the more main characters have 300+. The vast majority of these lines come from direct conversation with the player.

Consortium completely dissolves the fourth wall. You roleplay as yourself – you can speak and act as yourself, and you’re being given the opportunity to physically control a man from a parallel world. This man is first day Consortium field agent Bishop Six, operative for a powerful peacekeeping force in a not-quite-utopian future of 2042.

How you choose to speak for, interpret and play this role is entirely up to you. You can choose to role-play the Bishop and be what the Consortium want you to be, or force your own path and use his voice and body to explore their world.

You can get the game on Steam. Through December 2 it’s on sale for a mere $14.

Interdimensional Games producer and lead designer Gregory MacMartin

Interdimensional Games producer and lead designer Gregory MacMartin

About Gregory MacMartin

Gregory is an 18 year video game development veteran. Through working with companies such as Cavedog Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Relic Entertainment, Turbine, and Radical Entertainment, Gregory has experienced video game development from many vantage points. Gregory has played principal creative roles for the following titles, among others: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PC, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, and Scarface: The World is Yours. Gregory was also the project lead for Cavedog’s ambitious Amen: The Awakening and wrote the original game design treatment for Relic’s Homeworld.

 

Nov 242014
 
Starfall3
Starfall3

Damien Puckler as Captain William Hunter

Who’s ready for a new science fiction TV series? A good one. Yes, we are, too! So, we’re excited to discover the Starfall project, which has already filmed its pilot. The series stars Damien Puckler (Meisner, from the hit series Grimm), Ellen Dubin (Giggerota from the series Lexx, as well as roles in Earth: Final Conflict, and Abraxas), Andrew Jackson (Stargate SG 1), and Daytime Emmy-award-winning actor, Bill Oberst, Jr. (Take This Lollipop and Criminal Minds).

The series, created by John Ellis, is set in a post-apocalyptic version of our Sol system. The apocalypse came in the form of a race of aliens who conquered Earth and raided humanity (and some other alien races) for slaves. Eventually the alien Empire underwent political reform, choosing to style itself a benevolent republic, rather than a conquering empire, so the slaves are declared free. In practice, however, this “freedom” is anything but complete, as both humans and other

John Ellis, creator and producer of 'Starfall'

John Ellis, creator and producer of ‘Starfall’

alien races who were formerly enslaved are now tossed haphazardly back into the world as freedmen, and the world doesn’t quite know what to do with them. Humanity is more or less divided into three sets at this point: the ones who wish to revolt against the republic and get the conquering aliens out of the Sol system altogether; the ones who are content to assimilate into this new, blended society; and the ones who just have no idea what to do.

Krypton Radio got a chance to ask Ellis and Puckler a few questions about the project. Ellis told us, “Starfall will offer fans a new sci-fi space epic, intimately told through real people, not always doing the right things. Flawed actions with real consequences, against an infinite backdrop. Too, we’re striving for a higher production standard that hasn’t been seen before in independent streaming content.”

The action is set on a ship, the Ardri Jennet, which patrols the boundaries of the Sol system and tries to ensure that the freedmen are actually, you know, free. She is captained by William Hunter (played by Damien Puckler). Puckler told us, “Hunter is a tormented soul who began his life with true ideals and has seen them challenged and destroyed. He would easily chose to live in solitude, far away from any other beings, but life always throws him back into the position of responsibility … to be a leader, to take charge and make vital decisions. It’s that inner conflict between his idealistic compassionate heart and his experience of the real world and how to approach it, that makes the character truly captivating.”

His crew are an assortment of races and ideologies, which makes for plenty of potential for drama and excitement. Ellis gave us a sneak peek at the personalities. “Hanso Baash (played by Bill Oberst Jr.) is a brilliant engineer with extremely low self-esteem. Throughout the show he will come up with solutions to insurmountable problems, never once thinking

Andrew Jackson as Lorr T'vek & Ellen Dubin as Shingh-ah

Andrew Jackson as Lorr T’vek & Ellen Dubin as Shingh-ah

they’ll work — even after they do. This lack of confidence comes from being raised among a people (he’s of a race called the Quulsa) dominated by females, where males have no rights and are little more than sperm donors. He’s a bit of a rebel by even being aboard the Jenny, but constantly frazzled by self-doubt.

“Shingh-ah (played by Ellen Dubin), is one of the last members of her race (the Selsky), who have been hunted to extinction because of a singular ability they have (no, I’m not going to tell you!). She’s aboard the Jenny to hide in plain sight–she’s determined to stay off everyone’s radar for her own protection. Yet she is bonded to the crew, and will fight for them and with them against every foe.”

We asked Ellis what inspired him in writing Starfall. He said, “I take inspirations from almost anything. Tolkien to Alien; Dumas and Verne; Michael Connelly and Elmore Leonard. Pink Floyd, Rush and the Moody Blues. My own life has been a wealth of insight and thematic ideas. And my faith is always present and guiding me.”

Puckler said, “I have always been a huge fan of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, and the like. Starfall embodies all of these and more. It’s the ultimate sci-fi opera with deeply developed characters … each battling their own

Damien Puckler and Andrew Jackson on set

Damien Puckler and Andrew Jackson on set

inner conflicts while dealing with life as a crew member of the Ardri Jennet. It’s a fascinating scenario with fascinating stories!”

What’s it like to go from working on a network series to an independent production? What’s the biggest difference? “Money! Network series simply have more money available.” Puckler replied. “That, however, also puts them in a chokehold of what’s popular. Smaller productions always strive for a bigger budget, but the financial  shortcomings are overcome by creativity. More and more smaller shows are being made that are challenging what is out there. Smaller productions are able to create characters and storylines that are not always politically correct and/or are pushing the envelope! It think that is extremely exciting as an actor and even more as an audience.”

Where will Starfall be available? Ellis says, “Our original plan is to self-distribute online, and build a fan base large enough to support our continued independence. Even should a deal Starfall 1be offered by a third party, we’re determined to maintain creative control.”

Starfall has already succeeded in completing filming on its pilot. It’s currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the post-production work needed to make Starfall the masterpiece it’s meant to be. Now that principal filming is complete, the episode is awaiting editing, music and special effects. Ellis says that crowd-funding the work will allow greater creative control, and will also get the series in front of fans in half the time of a traditionally funded project. Donors get some pretty cool perks, including a walk-on role (at the $10,000 level), an Ardri Jennet uniform (at the $3,000 level), and loads of other goodies for smaller donations! The Starfall Kickstarter ends on Sunday, December 21, 2014.

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Nov 172014
 
People's Choice Award Trophies, 2014.
People's Choice Award Trophies, 2014.

People’s Choice Award trophies, 2014.

by Aly Runke, contributing writer

The People’s Choice Awards, arguably the most audience inclusive awards show ever, has begun its voting period. The People’s Choice award ceremony has been a televised event for the past forty years. In its efforts to showcase the who’s who and what’s what of popular culture each year, People’sChoice.com opens voting in a huge variety of different categories for fans of every persuasion. People’s Choice began in 1975 with only fourteen categories. Winners in that first year included The Sting in music and Barbra Streisand. Since then, it has grown exponentially to include over 40 categories, and its winners include such Hollywood elite as Katy Perry and Robert Downey, Jr. All of the winners are nominated and voted upon by the people who love them, not some organized franchise, which is the point after all.

To add your own voice to this melee of fan voting wonder, check out the various categories and nominees, picked by fans just like you. Some of the categories up on the site include Favorite Sci-Fi show, actor, and actress; Favorite movie, movie actor, and actress; Favorite tv duo; Most Missed character; and favorite music artist, album, and song of the year. Among these categories are tons of swoon-worthy nominees including the cast of shows such as Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.;  cable-network sci-fi and fantasy series like Doctor WhoOutlander, and Game of Thrones; and artists such as Iggy Azalea, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Ed Sheeran. Best Movie nominees include Guardians of the GalaxyMaleficentX-Men: Days of Future Past, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This final round of voting ends on December 4, 2014,  at midnight Pacific. So go vote for your favorites now!

Also available on the site is entertainment news, mostly light and fun stuff about different actors,  interviews, and features on each of the finalists in the categories. Tune in for the People’s Choice Awards 2015 on CBS, on January 7, 2015, live from Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California.

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Who are your picks for the winners? Sound off in comments, or on our Facebook page!