While most of this has little political relevance, it is filled with the kind of cool stuff that we OUGHT to be discussing... and WILL discuss much more, once civilization resumes its belief in the future.
First, some "Brin-related media" news.
My novel Earth has been nominated for the Stephen T. Colbert Award for the Literary Excellence. You are cordially invited to join the Stephen T. Colbert Award for the Literary Excellence Facebook Group and participate in this magnificently wise and forward-looking endeavor.
Watch your favorite Brin put down his pundit thing on the History Channel (again) on January 21, in a docu-future bit called Life After People... a fun look at what could happen to our cities... and animals... if humanity suddenly disappeared. Just in time for Wil Smith to rock ‘em in the third remake of I AM LEGEND (this time actually keeping to the original story title; but do also look at Charleton Heston’s old OMEGA MAN.) Anyway, feel free to let A&E/History know how much you approve of their choice of talking heads... and that they oughta bring back The Architechs.
Can’t help it. Some of you saw my ARCHITECHS show - the pilot about firefighting technology. But the History Channel never ran our other pilot on brainstorming and designing a practical and vastly improved replacement for the Humvee. Alas, since the Army is growing extremely disenchanted with the alternative that was chosen instead, a truly absurd Frankenstein monster called MRAP. Our design was so so so so so much better.
While we’re at it, are any of you out there interested in a wild ride through an idea-fest, ranging from the Fermi Paradox to existence tests for God, see my speech at the recent conference held at the Salk Institute -- “Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0.” There were many other fine presentations on topics ranging from “The end of literary postmodernism” (about time!) to “the myth of pervasive Islamo-terrorism” (a stunning refutation of the entire basis of the so called war on terror.) Alas, a recurring theme at the conference was atheism, in its recent and ironically militant incarnation, featuring some very rich invective from Daniel Dennett, among others. Counter productive proof that incantatory self-righteousness addiction is not limited to deity-believers. Check it out.
Anyway, I thought I knew my “filmography” pretty well. Lots of TV and scripts... but only the Postman was produced, right? Only... what’s this other film that I’m credited as having “produced”? Um, it’s not that I have anything against Val Kilmer... but.
A final ego-and film-related note (phew!) I just dropped into my CD player - after a long hiatus - the soundtrack album from Costner’s movie of The Postman. James Newton Howard’s original score is a stirring and very dramatic symphonic work of art. Followed by a lagniappe of songs by John Coiman and Jono Manson. Give it a listen.
(Have a look at what the CDs are going for! The dawn of a cult following?)
Of course this makes the movie itself all that much more an alas-almost thing, since it was also visually stunning - small surprise since Costner is one of the finest cinematographers around. Many individual scenes were terrific, adrenaline or emotion-rich, and the version of the tale written by Brian Helgeland and reified by KC had a big, big heart. (A vast improvement over the original, truly vile and evil script by Erik Roth.) So, with many senses fed, what went wrong? I mean other than Costner’s confident announcement that “We have nothing to worry about. Our only competition is Jim Cameron’s silly remake of a flick about a sinking boat.”
No. What killed the flick was a few flaws in plotting, in storytelling logic... plus some howler-boner scenes... all of which could have been fixed, if he had simply talked to anybody. The way he talked to folks when making “Dances With Wolves.” The way any decent craftsman does, even after he has chatchkies on the mantelpiece Alas...
... and it suddenly occurs to me why this topic came up! Ah, the subconscious is amazing.
It is exactly ten years since the movie came out. Oh, but one needs a thick skin.
Anyway, try the music-score. Makes a good use of that iTunes gift card.
IS THE ERA OF SCI FI OVER?
Just took the family to see THE GOLDEN COMPASS. In some other era, I would have enjoyed the special effects... while saving for later my inevitable grumbles about cliched talking animals and witches and foretold “chosen ones.” But, as a sign of our times, I instead found myself stirred by a few elements that weren’t tired old fantasy cliches. The previews in the theater showed us THREE upcoming fantasy flicks, each more staggeringly derivative than the last. Two of them about magical books whose characters come to life. Eek! Hence I was drawn to the fact that at least some modernist notions like academic freedom and scholarly curiosity and the importance of pragmatic skill. Still... an illogicality festival.
Want more depression? See Sir Ridley Scott grouse that Sci-fi films are as dead as Westerns.
Oh, we’re still influential on some levels. See a fun New Scientist article about How sci-fi influences today's gadgets. An article rich in ponderable links.
Still, if the signs are valid (e.g. the surge in feudal fantasy), then we may be in big, big trouble, fellow future-lovers and fellow lovers of freedom.
Any of you out there good at a little quick, online research? I need an estimate of the approximate market size - both gross and net - for the following industries:
* Social networking sites
* Virtual/ avatar worlds
* Business "meetingware"
* Networked online games
==OTHER STUFF... some of it way cool==
I think I vaguely recall seeing this vision of "the future" when it was new. Pre Jetsons! Love the punch cards... and no mention of computers. Silly? Perhaps. And yet, not as awful or misguided as our cynical impulse would lead us to judge. Indeed, we could use some of this sense of boundless possibilities, right now.
This one is actually pretty eerily predictive (thanks Dave McCabe):
More from the transparency front. An article that aggressively touts look-back sousveillance, empowering the public to watch the watchers. In Popular Mechanics, no less.
In the long debate over whether it is wealth or democracy that undermine violence, there’s this just sent in -- ”In an analysis of State Department data on terrorism, Princeton University economist Alan B. Krueger discovered that ‘countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have spawned relatively many terrorists, are economically well off yet lacking in civil liberties. Poor countries with a tradition of protecting civil liberties are unlikely to spawn suicide terrorists. Evidently, the freedom to assemble and protest peacefully without interference from the government goes a long way to providing an alternative to terrorism.’”
Oh, I have so much more stored up. But I want to take this chance to wish you all... fellow progress-oriented modernists, fellow citizens, fello humans and earthlings... and all you others who might just happen to be lurking in on all this... a happy new year, filled with ever-rising confidence, tolerance, patience, honest ambition... and love.
With cordial regards,