Back, Buying New Soul, RIP Harry Harrison

Actionsuit is back (and now on Facebook) after a brief hiatus traveling the Mid-West solving crimes with only our spiritual training and martial arts skill as a guide. What better way to come down back to reality than with a some live Porcupine Tree?

Today we dedicate our music to Harry Harrison, science fiction author, who passed away today according to his website. io9 has a great obituary.

 

Philip K Dick

The New York Times’ Simon Critchley writes a three part series on the life, philosophy, and madness of Philip K Dick.

Dick’s life has long passed into legend, peppered with florid tales of madness and intoxication. There are some who consider such legend something of a diversion from the character of Dick’s literary brilliance. Jonathan Lethem writes — rightly in my view — “Dick wasn’t a legend and he wasn’t mad. He lived among us and was a genius.” Yet Dick’s life continues to obtrude massively into any assessment of his work.

I recommend a little Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here, while you read:

Penny4NASA

Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks above about the importance of a well funded space program and has helped start a petition, called Penny4NASA, which

was created for the express purpose of organizing peoples around the nation to call for the increase of NASA’s annual budget to a vast, yet comparably minuscule, penny on the taxpayer dollar. Or in other words 1% of the total.

As someone who grew up with the Space Shuttle and Hubble Telescope programs and voraciously consumed any and all astronomy and science fiction information I could get my hands or eyes on, I can’t applaud Mr. Tyson’s effort enough. Not to mention as a kid I fully expected to be able to take a trip to Mars or at least the Moon by the time I was an adult.  I’ll forgive the no flying cars or teleportation devices yet, but dammit, I WANT MY TRIP TO THE MOON. So please, sign the petition and if you are so inclined, send a quick email to your Congressperson.

 

The Internet Archive

Presenting the Internet Archive, hands down the best resource on the internet for public domain audio recordings of live music, books, old time radio shows, and more plus a huge library of public domain books, often in a variety of formats. Whatever your poison, be prepared to spend your next several hours, if not days, browsing, searching, and playing files you find in this incredible archive.

With a few vacations still upcoming this year that involve a lot of driving, I thought I’d stock up on some audio books for the car which the whole family can listen to and maybe a few concerts I can listen to while the wife snoozes and the kids fire up their portable dvd players. So far I’ve only been roaming the archive of old time radio shows and have found more than a few gems worth checking out:

  • Dimension X – (From the description) “Dimension X was first heard on NBC April 8, 1950, and ran until September 29, 1951.Strange that so little good science fiction came out of radio; they seem ideally compatible, both relying heavily on imagination. Some fine isolated science fiction stories were developed on the great anthology shows, Suspense and Escape. But until the premiere of Dimension X — a full two decades after network radio was established — there were no major science fiction series of broad appeal to adults. This show dramatized the work of such young writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert (Psycho) Bloch, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut. In-house script writer was Ernest Kinoy, who adapted the master works and contributed occasional storied of his own.”
  • X Minus One – (From the description) “X Minus One aired on NBC from 24 April 55 until 9 January 58 for a total of 124 episodes with one pilot or audition story. There was a revival of the series in 1973 when radio was attempting to bring back radio drama and it lasted until 1975. The show occupied numerous time slots through out its run in the 50’s and thus was never able to generate a large following. X Minus One was an extension of Dimension X which aired on NBC from 1950-51. The first fifteen scripts used for X Minus One were scripts used in the airing of Dimension X; however, it soon found its own little niche. The stories for the show came from two of the most popular science fiction magazines at the time; Astounding and Galaxy. Adaptations of these stories were performed by Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. They even wrote a few original stories of their own. The writers of the magazine stories were not well known then but now are the giants of today. These stories came from the minds of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Poul Anderson to name a few.”

Here’s Episode 32 of X Minus One featuring The Roads Must Roll:

  • Biographies in Sound – This one is a can’t miss if you’re into biographies. Check out the link for the full listing of guests but it mainly features giants of literature and music, plus other leaders and scientists, all discussed by the people who knew them.

Next time I’ll take a look at the Live Music avialable; here’s a teaser, the first track from The New Orleans Suspects Live at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park on 2011-10-22: 

Edit 2: Audio fixed.

Edit: Sorry, the audio files may take a minute or two to buffer!

Sci-Fi Roundup

First up is a roundup of sci-fi publication news.

  • The online version of  The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction has launched the Beta version, meaning primarily that any number of entries have yet to be fleshed out with content, but the underlying structure is there. Looks great but it seems like they’re trying to reinvent the wiki format and trying to shoehorn it into something that resembles the book when it should be the reverse.
  • Amazon has announced a new science fiction, fantasy, and horror publishing arm called 47North. They’ve got quite a bit of content coming out in the near future featuring works with Neal Stephenson and Greg Bear. Great news but I wish Amazon would ditch the DRM on it’s downloadable books the way they did with music and drop the prices of digital versions to make them more competitive with ‘real’ books.
  • Vernor Vinge has released the third volume in his Zones of Thought cycle, Children of the Sky, reviewed here on Boing Boing. The first two books in the series, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, are both excellent reads. I remember picking up Fire in an airport on the way to Jamaica and being absorbed by his dense and imaginative world while sipping banana daiquiri’s on the beach.
A couple of gems coming out soon to theater/video:
  • The animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel Batman: Year One, will be released a week from tomorrow according to I09. Casting includes Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as Inspector Gordon.
  • And if you haven’t seen it already, here is the official trailer for The Avengers below.  Looks good; Loki is the only bad guy I can really identify