Chronoslexia: new British indie sf movie in the works. Also: Nazis on the Moon are go!

Paul Raven @ 07-07-2010

Chronoslexia movie posterIn the Futurismic post-bag this week comes news of a new independent science fiction movie called Chronoslexia. It’s being made here in the UK by an outfit with the very Marxist moniker Opiate Of The People Films, and its plot is summed up as follows:

What if in your everyday life you experienced glimpses of your future, and for moments relived your past? Talking about a childhood pet could send you back to the times you had with it – meeting a potential partner could throw you forward to your eventual breakup. How do you live a life knowing what’s around the corner? This condition is called Chronoslexia – and our movie seeks to ask those questions.

Sarah suffers from Chronoslexia, and when offered a cure, she jumps at the chance to take it.  The solution may very well be worse than the condition itself – but what if the future doesn’t have to play out like she experiences? What if fate doesn’t have to be inevitable?

It’s an interesting if well-worn premise; one can only hope that the independent nature of the project means they haven’t felt the need to cave in to the crap Hollywood clichés that tend to hobble or maim high-concept science fiction films (“Wow – it turns out that this is how God wanted it to happen all along!”).

But decide for yourself – you can go here to watch the trailer (which I can’t seem to find a way to embed – a situation that makes the 20-second ad preceding the trailer that much more annoying. C’mon guys, use YouTube, Vimeo, whatever… d’you want people to watch this thing or not?)

Speaking of independent movies, Iron Sky – the Nazis-on-the-Moon project from the people who put together the low-budget Trek spoof Star Wreck – has rustled up 90% of its US$8.5 million budget through various participatory offerings and crowdfunding methods [via TechDirt]. With a premise that good (I mean, come on, Nazis on the friggin’ Moon – even a cinema cynic like me would struggle to resist that hook), it’ll be a shame if it ends up sucking, but even if it does, it’ll have served a higher purpose: namely to have demonstrated that crowdfunding can work for big projects like making a movie. If the film’s any good, I’ll consider it a bonus.


Mega-engineering: awesome future concepts from Shimizu Corporation

Paul Raven @ 02-06-2010

Get yourself over to Pink Tentacle right away; they’re hosting a bunch of mega-engineering promo images and design concepts from Japan’s Shimizu Corporation, who plainly aren’t afraid to think in directions with strong science fictional undertones. Directions such as floating lily-pad cities, million-citizen pyramidal cities, space hotels… and turning the moon into a gargantuan solar power station.

The moon reconsidered as solar power station - Shimizu Corporation

This one’s the winner for me, because any image of a planetary satellite re-engineered into a solar power plant that has the words “MASTER PLAN” masked onto it in large letters is, by any sane and reasonable metric, better than pretty much any other image. Of anything.

Bonus! Compare and contrast with these images of Russian space-race installations and rolling stock decaying the middle of nowhere [via Chairman Bruce]. Maybe one day in the deeper future, people will tut and shake their heads at images of Shimizu’s lunar power station, pocked with impact damage and slowly drowning in lunar dust…


Who’ll be next on the Moon now NASA’s doing other stuff?

Paul Raven @ 03-02-2010

The MoonWell, the new NASA budget from Obama and chums has certainly got people talking… mostly about the fact that the dream of returning astronauts to the Moon is off the table for the foreseeable future [image by ComputerHotline]. Wired has snippets from the budget summary:

“NASA’s Constellation program — based largely on existing technologies — was begun to realize a vision of returning astronauts back to the Moon by 2020. However, the program was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies,” the budget summary concluded. “Using a broad range of criteria, an independent review panel determined that even if fully funded, NASA’s program to repeat many of the achievements of the Apollo era, 50 years later, was the least attractive approach to space exploration as compared to potential alternatives.”

However, it’s not a massive close-down operation: NASA’s budget has actually been increased, but earmarked for more practical and pragmatic science research, “sustainable exploration”… and keeping some older projects on the books:

Part of that commitment will involve a reprieve for the International Space Station. Instead of being deorbited in the middle of this decade, the ISS will be treated like a national laboratory, and used to pursue research on materials and long-term human habitation in space through at least 2020, with additional construction, including new infrastructure, planned beyond the end of the shuttle program. The budget also includes money for an extension of the shuttle through 2011, which will allow for the inevitable launch delays in its remaining five missions.

io9‘s Annalee Newitz points out that the prospects of the new budget are actually good for pro-exploration types, because it’s a realistic budget that eschews symbolic white-elephant achievements and glory-recapturing in favour of doing affordable things that will teach us lots of useful new stuff. She worries, however, about the fates of those whose expertise will be surplus to requirements now the Constellation project has been shelved:

One of the issues that concerns me the most is what will happen to all the talented NASA employees who have been working on Constellation and related projects. If NASA’s plan is to outsource the development of space vehicles that can carry human cargo, then thousands of jobs will evaporate. Florida alone anticipates losing 7,000 jobs when the Space Shuttle program ends next year. Earlier today Obama told reporters, “We expect to support as many if not more jobs with the 2011 budget,” but those will not be the same jobs. My hope is that some of this budget money that’s been allocated for private sector companies can also be used to place NASA engineers into private sector aerospace jobs. We need to encourage knowledge transfer from NASA to private industry. That way, aerospace companies won’t have to start from square one as they push humans into orbit.

Paging Ben Bova… Sam Gunn‘s time has come, perhaps. After all, there’s nothing to stop private enterprise achieving a Heinleinian dream and setting up a kind of frontier town based on Helium-3 mining and fast-and-loose land claims… well, nothing apart from the same practical difficulties and vast expense that have kept NASA away for the last four decades or so, anyway. But those difficulties don’t seem to be deterring the people behind the Open Luna Foundation [via MetaFilter], which…

… aims to return mankind to the moon through private enterprise. Initial goals focus on a stepped program of robotic missions coupled with extensive public relations and outreach. Following these purely robotic missions, a short series of manned missions will construct a small, approximately 6 person settlement based on a location scouted by the robotic missions. This settlement will be open for anyone’s use (private individuals to government agencies), provided they respect our ethical conduct and heritage policies.

You’ve got to admire the chutzpah, if nothing else… but I think I’ll hold off investing any money in that operation for a little while yet. But it begs the question: if NASA’s putting the Moon on a back burner, who’s going to make it there next? Private enterprise libertarians like Open Luna? China, India, Brazil? Anyone?


Friday fly-over: Mars’ Gusev Crater

Paul Raven @ 25-09-2009

Right, it’s Friday – so have some Martian landscape porn. A guy called Doug Ellison put this together to celebrate the Spirit rover’s third birthday… counting in Martian years, natch.

Pretty impressive, given it’s made purely from data collected by the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter and Spirit itselfas Paul McAuley says, it’ll not be long before there are versions that’ll allow you to explore the Red Planet at will, and Google Mars is getting pretty close.

And on the subject of Mars, there’s been more sightings of water ice, though it’s been somewhat overshadowed by the discovery of water on our nearer neighbour the Moon. Isn’t it high time we got to work on reducing price-to-orbit and actually going to these places in person?


Not bored of the Moon yet?

Paul Raven @ 22-07-2009

Then you’ll probably be glad to hear that Google have added a whole bunch of Lunar goodies to the latest edition of Google Earth, including the ability to have Buzz Aldrin take you on a guided tour. My inner seven-year-old is geeking out uncontrollably. [via SlashDot]


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