A mission launched to save civilization…in 1963? See the trailer for Syfy's bold new miniseries -- Ascension -- due to air on December 15.
I consulted this show about an Orion-style colony-escape vessel launched toward the stars in 1963. I cannot predict or vouch for the final result, yet. But the concepts are excellent and the vibe is simply exquisite.
See a writeup here: Ascension: Could Mankind Really Survive 100 Years in Space... plus a video interview where I discuss the science behind the show. Well, in fact, they seem to have edited a real whiz-bang intro out of my comments on the endeavor. Enjoy!
Ascension debuts in 6 episodes over three nights, starting December 15.
== Going Interstellar ==
We saw INTERSTELLAR in an IMAX theater. It was worth paying extra! I could concoct a hundred quibbles. Maybe I will, someday. But it is simply awful that so many of us nerdy types deny ourselves the pleasure of a vivid flick, by going in with prickly eagerness to carp and nitpick! Do what I do. Set aside that part of your personality to take notes "for later"... then tell that part to "shut the F#*! up and let me enjoy this!"
To receive this gift the way the creator of it intended. The way I might appreciate a late Monet, despite the blurriness caused by his cataracts.
Having done that, I sat back and wallowed in what is simply the best movie I have seen in this century.
Don't get me wrong... I still have both scientific and storytelling critical faculties. There are serious nits to pick, and I have a list. Indeed, there are one or two that might be serious enough to ask Mr. Nolan to insert 30 seconds into a director's cut (moral implications).
But I am determined to wait a bit, to let the initial glow settle.... I am simply way too happy with 4.95 stars. And knowing Mr. Nolan can continue to do whatever he wants to do.
We need stories about confident daring and belief in ourselves.
Oh, for a look at the science behind the movie, take a look at Caltech physicist Kip Thorne's book, The Science of Interstellar.
For another point of view, take a look at Futurist John Smart’s appraisal: Saving Interstellar: A Mental Rewrite of Chris Nolan's Latest Masterpiece.
== Another Nolan... another great Sci Fi Epic? ==
Exciting news... Christopher Nolan's brother and partner Jonathan has announced that his own next project will be to craft -- for HBO -- Isaac Asimov's epochal Foundation Trilogy! Naturally, I am excited, since I wrote the final book in Isaac's magnum opus, tying together all the loose ends in Foundation's Triumph. But here's more...
Starting with a pair of iO9 essays about Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Robots universe that has inspired writers from Douglas Adams to George Lucas, and public figures as varied as Paul Krugman and Newt Gingrich. In 1966, the Foundation Trilogy received the Hugo Award for Best All-Time Series, beating out the Lord of the Rings. And also – apparently -- Interstellar's Jonathan Nolan, who announced he would be writing and producing the adaptation of Isaac’s grand and sweeping science fictional epic.
Part of both reader fascination and dissatisfaction with Isaac's series arose from what I have long thought was the series's greatest hallmark - though seldom mentioned -- the fact that Isaac was constantly arguing with his earlier selves! First, in the 1940s, he asserted we can model human behavior as gas molecules are modeled purely with statistics.
But then, a later Isaac objected that there are perturbations! So he solves it with a Second Foundation that guides human events in ways that nudge the Seldon Plan's momentum back on track.
"But --" a still later Isaac complains "--now you get an inherent ruling caste!" So he over-rules the Second Foundation's human master race with... robots! The perfect court eunuchs, loyal and incorruptible...
...only then he realizes: "Robots and humans have reversed roles! The servants are few and all-powerful and controlling and the "masters" are numerous as grains on a million beaches, helpless and too silly to be trusted."
Can't have that. So he comes up with Gaia/Galaxia, in which humanity rises up higher than the robots in a single leap to a unified mega-mind, as in Arthur Clarke's Childhood's End...
... till still-later-Isaac realizes that humanity now will be squashed into sameness, one mind, thinking one thought. Indeed, he started pondering how to resolve this quandary.
In fact, there were some pretty clear hints where Isaac intended to go next! In a wonderful head-fake that would take his whole cosmos full-circle! Alas, he was unable to finish the series.
We "Killer Bees" - Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and myself -- were asked by Janet and Robin Asimov to do the "Second Foundation Trilogy" though each of our novels aimed to accomplish different things. While my own capstone novel (Foundation's Triumph) tied loose ends and followed Isaac's hints toward a final resolution of the tales of both Seldon and R. Daneel Olivaw, Greg Bear's book - Foundation and Chaos - closely scrutinized the implications of running a galactic empire and Benford's Foundation's Fear... well... Gregory had a lot of fun. You will too.
As did I, reading Mark Strauss's rambling exploration-insightful decryption of one of the greatest of all sci fi future histories.
Here's hoping the Nolan boys will (again) make us proud.