Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

By Google’s Command

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

I’m a bit embarrassed I hadn’t noticed this before.

The icon for Google’s new Chrome web browser features a sort of beach-ball thing with a circle in the middle. It looks a little like a robotic eye.

Chrome eye.

They’ve included that eye in the logo on the download page.

Chrome eye.

On the new Battlestar Galactica, the human-appearing cylons are frequently referred to as “skin jobs.” The more classically robotic centurions are occasionally referred to as “chrome jobs.” These so called “chrome jobs” have only one eye.

One eye. Robotic. Chrome.

Do you suppose Google is being run by Cylons?

Scriptusphobia (Fear of Writers)

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

During a recent convention, I was one of the hundred or so people who went home with a “Convention Special” publication from Pocket Books, containing the first chapters of three upcoming Star Trek books: Greater Than The Sum by Christopher L. Bennett, Kobayashi Maru by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels and Destiny Book 1 — Gods of Night by David Mack.

Reading through the chapter from Kobayashi Maru, I was somewhat amused to find Captain Archer reflecting on some apparently hard-nosed superior officers. Admirals Gardner, Black, Douglas, Clark and Palmieri.

I’m not sure about the other four, but my guess is that “Admiral Palmieri” is a reference to Pocket Books senior editor, Marco Palmieri. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that the others Admirals are also employed by Pocket. (And for the record: I’ve met Marco; he struck me as fairly easy to get along with. Which is probably how he ended up being “picked on.”)

It’s not the first time I’ve run across this sort of thing. In How Much for Just the Planet? a group of John Ford’s characters encounter a Lieutenant Crispin whose first name is later revealed to be Ann. Surely that was a reference to his fellow writer, Ann C. Crispin.

And that’s where I start getting scared. I know a handful of Star Trek novelists well enough that when we see each other at conventions, the conversation goes into areas other than books. Some of those conversations have been memorable (particularly in regards to The Shovel).

Some of them have been known to mention convention attendees in their books.

Shopping for Zombies

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Earlier this evening I received information about a new horror con called the “Zombie Fest.” Horror’s not my personal genre of choice (though I certainly won’t dispute its popularity), but this one caught my attention a bit more than usual.

The Zombie Fest is taking place in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. Most shows in Monroeville take place at the Expo Mart, but this one’s taking place in Monroeville Mall.

That’s an unusual location for a convention, though it’s certainly appropriate in this case. Back in the winter of 1976, George Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead there. (The plot summary on IMDB refers to the mall as “secluded.” It didn’t seem that way to me growing up, and much so less now the area has been even more built up.)

Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any other conventions taking place in shopping malls. I just wish the ice rink was still there.

Going non-Postal

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Ever since I started this convention list (would you believe it’s been nearly 10 years?) I’ve been reluctant to include events which didn’t have postal contact information.

A good deal of it was pragmatic, when I first started the list, it was for publication in a club’s newsletter. The organization claimed to have around 4,000 members, and at the time (10 years ago) it seemed pretty likely that a number of them wouldn’t have internet access and therefore wouldn’t have much use for convention information that didn’t include a postal address.

Things have changed since then. Internet access is common and an increasing number of conventions (particularly anime and gaming events) have chosen to forgo postal points of contact in favor of online registration and email for questions.

So as of today, the convention listings now include events which don’t have a postal point of contact. Those events won’t be included in the syndicated copies of the list, but in general this will make more information more easily accessible and it’s hard to see that as a bad idea.

What do you think? Is this an overdue adaptation to the way cons are run? Or does it open the door for problems?

Comment is invited. In the comment section below, on the Conventio.ning site, or if you’d prefer to talk privately, through the feedback page.

Starship Farragut Crew Becomes Quite Animated

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

When the Starship Farragut Crew launched their series at last year’s Farpoint convention, they also announced plans to release new episodes at the rate of two per year. I was quite impressed by the boldness of their plans and even more so when they actually did it!

I had the opportunity to talk to several members of the group back in February, during this year’s Farpoint. During one such chat, someone, I think it was Michael Bednar, told me they had some big changes in the offing. About the only details I learned were that they would be doing fewer episode length productions, but making up the difference with more short subjects.

The cat is now out of the bag. Farragut Films has announced Starship Farragut-The Animated Episodes. The trailer currently displayed on the site’s home page shows a brief montage of clips from the existing live-action episodes (I recognized at least one clip from “For Want of a Nail“) and then cuts to animated clips done in the same style as the 1970s animated series done by Filmation.

No episodes yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they have up their collective sleeve.

Thanks to DaCap for passing along the news!

Links of Interest:

Terminating the NFL

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Fans haven’t had much good to say about the Fox network since Firefly was canceled (likewise for the cancellation of Futurama), but I do have to give the network credit for being able to laugh at themselves (for example, the various Fox-targeted jibes on The Simpsons).

For the past several years, Fox’s Superbowl coverage has included a “robotic football player” jumping around during the breaks where they name the sponsors. The spots promoting The Sarah Connor Chronicles, featuring the football player being attacked by Terminators, definitely got my attention.

I haven’t regularly watched anything on broadcast television for a few years, but this has me intrigued. (Seeing the two commercials they ran may also have something to do with it.)


Sunday, March 4th, 2007

On one of the email lists I’m subscribed to, people were recently chatting about an upcoming science fiction convention. A couple people started wondering aloud whether they needed to buy convention memberships since after all, they were only planning to attend a club meeting and maybe one or two other things that weren’t in the main ballroom. In short, did they need to pay even if they weren’t planning to see the guests?

That’s a tough one to answer.

On the one hand, convention memberships are what pay for everything. Not just the celebrity guests, but also the bills for the convention space. Generally speaking, the space rental for the weekend is one of a convention’s two largest expenses, and that’s all the space, not just the ballroom. (The convention has to pay for that “free” meeting space.) And obviously, if too many people routinely take advantage of the convention’s “free” resources without paying for memberships, eventually you won’t have a convention.

On the other hand, any convention that checks badges for every panel and every club meeting is likely to wind up hearing a lot of unpleasant feedback involving comparisons to the Third Reich, Soviet Russia and the like. And the sheer amount of manpower required to do all that checking is a bit overwhelming too.

Sure a convention membership is going to cost you some money, but you get a lot in return. You don’t only get to attend whatever club meeting, you also get admission to “all-you-can-eat” of that days’ programming with panels, Q&A sessions, and frequently a costume show and Saturday evening dance. Plus you get the warm-fuzzies and/or good karma that come with the knowledge that you’re supporting local fandom.