Category Archives: Science fiction

Slow Tuesday Night

R.A. Lafferty published the short story “Slow Tuesday Night” in 1965.  I first read it in the 1970s, and it came back to me as the Internet era unfolded, as it depicts a speeded-up world in which memes come and go in the space of an evening, and someone can conceive a product and make a fortune from it in an evening.  “Things that had once taken months and years now took only minutes and hours.”

I was reminded again of Lafferty yesterday.  Vice President Biden — reinforcing his role as our wacky uncle — said to Obama “This is a big f***ing deal!” near a microphone, on live TV.  It was of course picked up by Tweeters and bloggers instantly.

Within a couple of hours, one could already buy apparel, mugs, and many other products with the new catchphrase on sites like Zazzle.  Lafferty might be pleased.

(Image courtesy

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A 1970s cult classic?  No, this is simply one of the worst futurist movies ever made, scoring at the bottom of the 150 or so films I’ve reviewed.

Why did I watch it?  I am doomed to watch many bad futurist movies.  And, more specifically, I acquired it on videotape when a local video store went under some time ago, and am watching the tapes while I still have a functioning VCR.

The stats:

  • Futurism: 2 — A hodgepodge of robots and other futurist elements, dealt with incoherently.
  • Entertainment: 3 –The big “mystery” is telegraphed in the opening sequences, then nothing happens for the first 56 minutes.  After that, nothing interesting happens, unless you count mysterious gaps in plot and continuity.
  • Plausibility: 2 –Robots, AI, and clones are not going to happen like this.

The highlights, such as they are:

  • The robots are futurists: one explains that their world-domination plot is driven by the fact that “All our probability studies indicate that, if left alone, you’ll destroy much of this planet by the end of the decade. . . We don’t intend to be destroyed by your mistakes.”
  • A character does at least coin a good euphemism for a preference for sex with robots: “A taste for the iron.”
  • It anticipates the Wii by 30 years: people box via hand controllers, though they operate androids rather than virtual avatars.

I do not even get the benefit of educating my Netflix computer overlord about a really bad movie: Futureworld does not seem to be available on DVD.

Upcoming Futurist Movies

Avatar-PosterA number of futurist or quasi-futurist movies is coming out in the next three months.

Movie: Splice
Release date: Global release beginning
Futurist element: Genetic engineering runs wild

Movie: Surrogates
Release date: September 25, 2009
Futurist element: Reverse virtual reality using robot surrogates

Movie: Pandorum
Release date: September 25, 2009
Futurist element: Space exploration (as horror setting)

Movie: The Road
Release date: October 16, 2009
Futurist element: Surviving in the aftermath of societal collapse

Movie: 2012
Release date: November 13, 2009
Futurist element: Apocalyptic destruction of the world

Movie: Avatar
Release date: December 18, 2009
Futurist element: Battle aliens on an alien world

Note that some of these dates could shift.

(Image courtesy 20th Century Fox via Wikipedia)

Upcoming Futurist Movies

Moon jurvetson FlickrSeveral new futurist movies are due out in the next two months:

Movie: Moon
Release date: Out in some US cities, and due out widely July 10
Futurist element: Mining colony, at least at some scale, on the Moon

Movie: GI Joe: Rise of Cobra
Release date: August 7, 2009
Futurist element: Military exoskeletons

Movie: District 9
Release date: August 14, 2009
Futurist element: Aliens living in South Africa

Movie: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Release date: August 14, 2009
Futurist element: Time travel (though this version may have no scientific explanation)

Movie: Gamer
Release date: September 4, 2009
Futurist element: Brain implants and mental control

Movie: Splice
Release date: September 18, 2009
Futurist element: Genetic engineering runs wild

Movie: Surrogates
Release date: September 25, 2009
Futurist element: Virtual reality and robots, seemingly

Note that some of these dates could shift.

A good cloning movie at last?

Clones Bosslyn FlickrNever Let Me Go is about to start filming, with Keira Knightly in the lead role.

It is based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel by the same name, and if it retains half of the book’s seriousness, it may be the first solid cloning movie since The Boys from Brazil.

The topic has typically been dealt with at the level of pure sensationalism, as in The Sixth Day, or obscured with a quasi-mystical veneer, as in The Island.

Image courtesy Bosslyn (Flickr) — usable with attribution