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28 February 2019

Thursday Night Is Movie Night: Forbidden Planet

The best science fiction movie ever made! Forbidden Planet starring Leslie Neilsen, Ann Francis and Walter Pidgeon, with the original Robbie The Robot and the Monster Of The ID.

Movie Night is now going monthly, while I find some other retro SF gems for you, perhaps in my own field of comic art. Wait and see.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Which play inspired the plot of Forbidden Planet?

Movie Night comes to you with the help of the Internet Archive.

27 February 2019

A View From The Future

Thinking back over the heatwave that we've experienced here in the British Isles for the past week or so, while our friends across the Atlantic face the terrors of the polar vortex, I wonder if there's a future perspective to take into account in telling our science fiction tales.
It seems that our children and grandchildren might tell stories of the golden age when their ancestors experienced the turning of the year in a series of well-ordered seasons. That there was a time to plant, a time to grow, a time to harvest and a time to rest.
It certainly looks like climate change has scrambled that pattern as we experience the two hottest days in February ever, one after the other. Looking out of the window, I see a strange summer day, as warm as most that we experience in Scotland, except that there are no leaves, no heavy verdant foliage; a skeleton of summer.
Something is changing and we need to take that into account. New stories of the future should not refer to the gentle seasons, except in retrospect; unless we have a story about the development of weather control. See Asimov's great city planet Trantor, with its weather machines for a good example.

25 February 2019

A Dystopian SF Idea or Maybe Just a Plotline for a Soap?

I came across a little story in the National today that came as no surprise to me but it was interesting to see a suspicion of mine supported.
The story was "Scottish scientists identify security flaws in 'smart' technology" and it was showing how some academic research had exposed security flaws in smart domestic appliances. The convenience of having an internet fridge that can remind you what to put on your shopping list through an app, or even just order direct from your favourite supermarket opens up an access-way for hackers to enter your home network and do their worst, perhaps using your account to fill their fridge, for example.
Now, in terms of a systems analysis viewpoint, smart appliances stand out as an unnecessary complication and a removal of a key control point in the domestic economy. Your house system includes a number of places where you store food: the fridge, the freezer, the larder cupboard, the spice rack, and others. Occasionally you check the contents of these places, make a list and shop for more food.
Shopping can take several forms these days. You can go to the shops and buy the items, bringing them home yourself, or the shop may deliver bulkier items once you have bought them in the store. Alternatively you can order from home and the shop will deliver the goods, or keep them in store for you to collect.
The key system point here is that the householder, the human being, makes the decision to spend some of the household's money on some items. With a smart appliance it is possible for the appliance to make the decision on the spend. In this way, the human being has no control of the situation and, if they don't monitor it, the chances of it going wrong, with financial consequences, are high.
Introduce an opportunity to hack your app and you are in serious trouble.
Now, getting more on theme with my blog here, would this be a good plot for a science fiction story?
For folk who don't partake of science fiction this would seem to be an obvious one. However, there have been many sf stories in the past warning us of inappropriate use of computer technology and the danger of repeating someone else's work would be a problem. Last year, the X-Files had a great episode on just this topic and a whole parcel more and pretty well sealed the sf box on this one. Check out "Rm9sbG93ZXJz."
I would say that, now the academics have put this sf-writer's paranoia on a confirmed rational footing, that it is now the job of mundane writers to wake up to this as a present-day problem and start to include subplots in the soaps where characters lose all their money to their freezer, rather than the tired old gambling addictions or other well-worn paths. Technology addiction is a problem now and ground-breaking writers should start to look at it. They could start by reviewing the sf canon on this very subject.
Myself? This might be a nice wee episode for a character's back story but certainly not the centrepiece of a whole tale.

21 February 2019

Max Neptune and the Menacing Squid - Movie Night

A real treat tonight as we show Max Neptune and the Menacing Squid, probably the best movie made in recent years that no one has heard about.

Starring the dynamic Curt Clendenin, the gorgeous Keaton Shyler, and menaced by the outrageous Michael Ornelas, this is one you should see again and again.

Movie Night comes to us courtesy of Thanks, guys.

18 February 2019

Poems into Comics

I'm involved with a really great project with my pal Russell Jones. A team of comic artists are turning Russell's poems into comics for an anthology pamphlet (literary world name for a twenty-page comic).
This fellow introduces the story I've chosen but I can't tell you any more except that it is full of some wonderful characters for me to draw.
I hope to get this piece to Russell later this week.

How Space Pilot Comics get made - an insight

This is Atomoblender, who helps me occasionally when I'm researching the things that go into a comic. We are looking at potted palms and interesting lamps here.
It's essential to employ a household atomic robot when creating retro sf styled work.

14 February 2019

Thursday Night Is Movie Night: Flash Gordon

We started Thursday Night Is Movie Night with Buck Rogers, played by Buster Crabbe. Now here's Buster again but in his earlier role as Flash Gordon. This is a feature length compilation of the second serial Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe. Enjoy.

TRIVIA QUESTION:How many comic artists can you list who took a turn at drawing Flash Gordon since the character was created by the legendary Alex Raymond?

Movie night would not be possible without the Internet Archive.

13 February 2019

Playing Synth At Frankenstein's

This fellow has the unfortunate distinction of being the last smoker. I'll be singing his story in the Bier Kellar at Frankenstein's, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, tomorrow night with SF prog folk band Painted Ocean.
We're there to support Shoreline of Infinity's Event Horizon which launches the new anthology The Chosen From The First Age.
Have a look at the Shoreline of Infinity website to see more about that.
So, if you are in Edinburgh tomorrow night between 7pm and 10pm, drop by Frankenstein's for a night of science fiction music, storytelling and poetry. They have a good raffle too.
If you can't be there I'll still have a Thursday night movie for you here on the Space Pilot Comics blog. You can't say I don't look after you.


Watch most of the Event Horizon on Shoreline of Infinity's video feed here.You need to fast forward to 9 minutes 10 seconds to find the start, and it cuts off before the actual Last Smoker song. I'll see if they can send me a copy to post here.

07 February 2019

Thursday Night Is Movie Night: The Return Of Captain America

Tonight's movie is episode 5 from the 1966 Marvel Animation series Captain America and tells how Captain America came to be a member of the Avengers in the present day.
This cartoon looks like a sequence of Jack Kirby's comic frames and has a lot of the liveliness of the Marvel Age of Comics.

Tonight's trivia item is an answer. This cartoon gives you the answer to one of the previous trivia questions.

Movie night would not be possible without the Internet Archive.

01 February 2019

More Sci Fi Story Ideas

How did you enjoy This Island Earth last night? A movie full of ideas that were current at the time.

So where do we get some ideas for a great story today?
Well my email inbox had a NASA press release that caught my eye and then I saw two other stories that would combine with that to create a really well-informed climate change story. I'm going to read these with renewed interest to see if I can get some of those scientific challenges across to the lay reader in the form of an entertaining science fiction story.

NASA's AIRS Captures Polar Vortex Moving in Over US
Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay
Warming Seas May Increase Frequency of Extreme Storms