Archive for February, 2013

Science Fiction Land

Architecture has been an evolving piece of SF synchronicity, building around the peripheries at the tail end of 2012 and the start of 2013. First the death of Oscar Niemeyer in December – a designer who brought the aspirations of science fiction artists to life in concrete and glass. Next the Mega City One vistas created by Neil Miller resurfaced in a feature over at Sci Fi Now, closely followed by a much deeper analysis in 3D World’s architecture special. These both predated the Oscars and the revelation that Buckminster Fuller was involved in Science Fiction Land – the true back story behind Ben Affleck’s award winning Argo. It all makes for a nicely constructed subtext that contrasts the glib view, currently circulating within the blogosphere, that science fiction is caught within an irrevocable erosion  Instead of collapse, I believe these imaginary foundations will last a lot longer than any of us can anticipate.

Richard Matheson is to update The Incredible Shrinking Man for a modern audience penning, in his own words, “an existential action movie”. High hopes already thanks to a bibliography containing the original book (1956), screenplay (1957) and, let’s not forget, his masterful reworking of the vampire myth in 1954. The question remains how the author hopes to get over the inability to alter the size of human proteins or the oxygen molecules the protagonist will inevitably have to breathe. Over the years science fiction has come up with a host of possible solutions, from condensing the orbits of electrons to creating miniature robotic avatars controlled by conventional sized operators. But, plausibility aside, my personal heroes of inner space have to be the 1974 Micronauts toys from Takara and subsequent Marvel comic book series. Despite an abortive reboot in 2004, the series remains locked somewhere at a quantum level.

As reported by Cory Doctorow over on Boing Boing, Games Workshop are calling in the legal drop troops over the use of the term “space marine”. Odd, you might think, as the history of SF echoes to the sound of pulse rifles – dating all the way back to Amazing Stories, in fact.

Regardless of this ‘advance’ on the territory of trade mark, Blizzard Entertainment have launched their own retaliatory salvo via Project Blackstone – a micro site hosting StarCraft back stories similar to this, which can be accessed using the code Y7_$0>0k_3<$m. Meanwhile, Sega – with a perennial salute to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers - also don the body armour to go toe to talon with Giger’s Xenomorphs. All of which attempts to put Games Workshop’s sabre rattling into some kind of context, but nobody does it better than Doctorow himself:

“Games Workshop’s strategy is to make “space marine” less generic by launching high profile, bullying attacks on everyone who uses it, so that there will come a day when people hearing the phrase immediately conclude that it must be related to Games Workshop, because everyone knows what colossal dicks they are whenever anyone else uses the phrase.”