The revelation a while back that Winston Churchill had written a paper on aliens isn’t too surprising. The great statesman was literate, erudite, deeply interested in history and the sciences, and knew many of the key figures in the British scientific community. What he had to say was very much in line with the thinking … More Are we so arrogant to suppose aliens will be like us?
A few years ago, when I was staying with relatives in the Netherlands, we decided to spend a few days in Paris – three countries and many hundreds of kilometres away. There were all sorts of ways of doing it, including by driving. Or we could have spent a lot of time driving to Schiphol, … More Why trains are sometimes faster than air travel
I am a great fan of science fiction that’s plausible enough to be ‘scientific’, but which doesn’t take the ‘science’ so far as to be boring. In the miniseries that launched the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica a decade or so ago, Galactica took a direct hit from a nuke and survived with near-undiminished fighting capacity. Is … More Sci-fi writing tricks: balancing drama with plausibility
The other day I stumbled across a fan-site description of the warships portrayed in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2004-09). And something struck me. Sci-fi ships usually derive from an ocean-going ‘conceptual model’ – ‘space dreadnoughts’, ‘space battlecruisers’, ‘destroyers’ and the rest. The ‘conceptual model’ for Galactica was apparently the hybrid carrier-battleship of the kind contemplated … More The cool steampunkish bit about ‘Battlestar Galactica’
If you had a choice of super-powers, which one would you pick? Personally I’d go for Dr Manhattan’s, off Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. OK, it makes him look like a radioactive Smurf. But that super-power also makes him indestructible, immortal, and gives him total control over determinist (space-time) and quantum worlds, which means … More What’s your favourite super-power?
Every so often we’re told that a rogue star or planet known as Niblick or Niburu, or some similar gibberish, is about to cause the apocalypse. Earth’s going to be whacked in 1984, 1987, 1999, 2012, 2018, apparently, with all the effect of a nine-iron on a golf ball, and NASA are hiding the truth … More Earth’s comet apocalypse at the hands of Gliese 710
OK so I saw Rogue 1. To me it was one of the best Star Wars movies ever made, up there with The Empire Strikes Back. In the specific, it was a sci-fi war movie – pure and simple. And it showed what usually happens in war – where people usually end up dead. It … More Star Wars without the Force – reviewing Rogue 1