In the 1992 comedy Wayne’s World, Wayne Campbell makes a wise observation about the comparisons made between sparkling wine and champagne. “It is a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation,” he notes of sparkling wine. “In many ways it’s superior, but will never be as recognized as the original.”
Wayne was right about many things, but even he couldn’t have foreseen the cultural impact of Next Gen from his vantage point in 1992.
The original Star Trek series, starring the likes of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, was great, and the Star Trek films were intermittently so too – all following a crew of spacefaring idealists exploring the universe and having velure-ensconced adventures. But in 1987 the story of Star Trek recommenced with a new series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, which skipped a century ahead and charted a fascinating new course with an all new crew on a new and improved USS Enterprise, a ship with a continuing mission to explore the universe under the steady hand of the uptight but charming Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart).
Maybe it’s just the size of my apartment and my comparative isolation over the past two years, but I’ve rediscovered a love for stories set in tiny spaceships where no one can hear you scream (or cry into your cat’s fur or whatever).
We’re also still in the midst of a technological revolution that blurs the line between crime writing and scifi, as well as benefitting from a long tradition of mingling the two in the service of exploring modern dystopian tendencies.
In the spirit of collaboration between the genres, I’ve collected a few scifi noirs and speculative thrillers that should appeal to crime readers (as well as fans of horror).
This year’s science fiction seems to bring with it a new emotional intensity, as cataclysmic events become settings for character studies, and space travel turns inwards, exploring the nature of identity itself. The works below are arranged in order of publication date.
While watching S3 E4, “Tailspin,” of “Manifest,” on NBC, I saw this intriguing image of a tablet and a book. It made me think of the ways technologies (of now and the future) often integrate and merge with older technologies (i.e. books in this case).
I was thinking about how television didn’t replace radio –it changed it and made it different, but it’s still there.
Modern technology tools like smartphones and tablets are not going to replace the old technology, books. They will change how the two or more work together, and shape the world, and are useful in ways we cannot truly imagine yet…
Futuristic Space Technology Concepts Selected by NASA for Initial Study
Early-stage research into futuristic space ideas – a lunar levitation track system, light bending lunar power system, method for making soil from asteroid material, and more – could help revolutionize NASA’s technology toolbox and pioneer new kinds of missions. More than a dozen researchers from within the agency, industry, and academia will receive grants from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to study their concepts’ feasibility.
“NIAC Fellows are known to dream big, proposing technologies that may appear to border science fiction and are unlike research being funded by other agency programs,” said Jenn Gustetic, director of early-stage innovations and partnerships within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “We don’t expect them all to come to fruition but recognize that providing a small amount of seed-funding for early research could benefit NASA greatly in the long run.”
It’s difficult to focus on writing, particularly fiction, when the world feels like it’s on fire.
“To be sure, these times — by which I mean the Trump era to date, let’s go ahead and avoid cutesy winking allusions — are making it hard for lots of writers, not just the ones who write science fiction. It’s difficult to focus on writing, particularly fiction, when the world feels like it’s on fire and everyone you know is trying to decide between hiding in a hole or taking up recreational alcoholism to get by.”