2012 Doomsday Scenarios: Month One

Okay it’s 2012 now, supposedly our final year according to the Mayan calendar. Earth was put on notice last week with that big solar flare that could’ve disrupted our satellites (but thankfully didn’t). With all the hoopla about the end of the world, one has to wonder if this is our swan song, how will it end? Here at Starloggers, we’re going to examine the possible doomsday scenarios each month as a sort of countdown.

Doomsday Scenario No. 12: The Aliens Are Coming, The Aliens Are Coming

Whether the E.T.s are friendly, cuddly visitors or blood thirsty, destructive invaders, it can’t be denied that once they do arrive life as we know it is over. So even if the first contact is benevolent our isolation in the universe is gone and with it the way we see ourselves. This scenario would bring about an end of our world. These are the possible scenarios:

  • Friendly, curious neighbors come by to say hello: Think of E.T. or Starman or the alien greys from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. They mean well, they’re just explorers but their arrival is nonetheless disruptive. A variation of this scenario is explored in Carl Sagan’s book Contact (and film based on his work), where just the radio signals from another star changes our society.
  • We’re invited: Continuing to look at Contact, the aliens willingly or unwittingly give humanity the technology to travel to their world. This theme is also seen with the film Stargate and its TV shows, the John Carter books and Adam Strange in comic books.
  • The Enforcers: The gist of this scenario goes like this, aliens make first contact with humans. But we’re given a stern warning to clean up our act and play nice otherwise either  A) we can’t join their club or B) they’ll wipe us off the map. Option A was presented in Allen Steele’s Coyote universe books and option B was best shown with the classic The Day The Earth Stood Still.
  • Caught up in an interplanetary conflict: This is the plot for those Transformers films. We’re standing by innocently in our little blue world obsessed with nonsense like taxes, the presidential election and Snookie until BAM! A bunch of aliens from two different sides arrive and duke it out, using our planet as a battlefield. This also happened in the book The Last World War and the Aliens Vs. Predators films.
  • Aliens with a mysterious agenda: Most recently seen with the V series but a terrific example is Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End. What happens is that aliens arrive in mammoth motherships over major cities. They claim to be peaceful and want to help humanity but have another agenda they’re keeping from us. With V (the original show, the remake was pretty vague–could be why the show failed) the aliens wanted our water and us for food. In Childhood’s End the mysterious Overlords arrived to shepherd in our next evolutionary stage and move our descendants into the cosmos. Another example is that show from the late ’90s Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict, where the mysterious Taelons arrive on Earth bringing an era of peace but have secret motives for coming to our world.
  • This Petri dish Earth or we taste like chicken: The first V show and mini-series fit this bill. And if the UFO fanatics are to be believed, alien greys come to our planet to create human/alien hybrids and to conduct painful, invasive experiments on humans. On the big screen, this was best shown with the underrated film A Fire In The Sky.
  • INVASION: The tried and true plotline of alien contact. Aliens arrive in huge ships and proceed to stomp us into smithereens until the heroes in the third act find a way to beat them. Examples in film, shows and books are numerous and include War Of The Worlds, Independence Day, Battle: Los Angeles, Footfall, the Worldwar books, etc. A variation of the invasion scenario is the clandestine invasion where the aliens slowly infiltrate us until it’s too late. Check out the shows Threshold,  The X-Files, The Invaders, and First Wave (this invasion scenario is probably prevalent on TV for budgetary reasons) as examples. On film the most famous example is Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

That’s one look at how 2012 could the end of the world as we know it (apologies to R.E.M.). One month down, eleven more to go; be prepared.

Special thanks to GEO for his contribution

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New Doctor Who Companions Scenarios

The Doctor and the Ponds

Showrunner Steven Moffat announced on December 15 that the Ponds, Amy and Rory, will be leaving Doctor Who, well I can’t help wondering, what’s next? This is sad news but at the same time, you can appreciate that change means creativity so goodbye is inevitable.  It’s a bittersweet time.  We will miss the camaraderie and hope for occasional visits, but shaking things up a bit might be fun, too.

 So I am sure that everyone has their own theories about who should be the new companion, but here are three possibilities that I’ve come up with and I am sure that just as the universe is infinite so are the possible companions for the Doctor.  My imagination led me here.  It will be interesting to see if there are any similarities between Steven Moffat’s companions and a simple fan.  Who would you pick for the esteemed Doctor?

 Scenario OneStrange Puppy Love:  A middle-aged women from New York City and her pre-teenage daughter travel with the Doctor along with their Pomeranian.  However, the women thinks she is dreaming and that the Doctor is actually the Pomeranian transformed into a man, who’s name happens to be Doctor Sandy. Coincidentally, he is sometimes called the Doctor.

Foxy Lady as Doctor Sandy. Photo by Olivia McLernon

She become flirty with him and laughs at herself because she thinks she is only dreaming this and that she is flirting with her dog.  The daughter knows the truth but needs the doctor to show her and her mother around time and space because her mom is a historian and is trying to write a book.   With her daughter’s help the mom is getting over her writer’s block and has all kinds of interesting historical tidbits that never would have occurred to her before and comes in handy in the Doctor’s adventures through time. 

Some of these tidbits could include her helping the underground railroad during the Civil War. There she helps the Civil War Judge’s wife, Mrs. Piatt by giving her the idea to use a lawn jockey holding an American flag to signal her husband’s absence. Or aiding Sacagawea as she guided Lewis and Clark. At the same time, she is floored by Sacagawea’s hardships and begins to appreciate her own life and time. Then she could wind up in the early 1960s and meets Rachel Carson while she writes Silent Spring. The mom encourages her and helps her see her legacy as she will soon die of breast cancer.

Continuing the time journeys in the 1960s and ’70s she becomes part of the inspiration for songs like “Space Oddity” and” Go Ask Alice” much to the chagrin of the Doctor.

 Scenario TwoThe Red Widow:  Every companion that the Doctor travelled with always was light and pretty much excited to be travelling, except for Donna in the beginning.  What if the Doctor gets roped into a support group that doesn’t really do much to support each other and have been stuck in a rut for a couple of decades? To shake things up a bit, these people come from Australia (or anywhere else but Europe).

Some members of the group are upset over a lack of interest, drive and desire, except for one fellow, let’s call him Mack.  He is the extreme opposite.  He’s a knife-wielding Crocodile Dundee type who has been down in the dumps about the environmental protection acts of every species in Australia that has forced him to become a semi-vegetarian, as he cannot hunt as often as he likes.  

In the course of time traveling with the Doctor, he happens upon a hybrid version of the red spider-like Racnoss (the Red Spider Empress that tried to turn Donna into spider food for her brood and killed her no-good fiancé in “The Runaway Bride”).  This chelicerata/humanoid is the result of a human-Racnoss union, that didn’t end so well for the human.  However, this new species aren’t quite as lethal and can pass for normal humans (except for their abdomens).  However, when they mate, the urge to kill their mate is still strong but this varies. 

The Racnoss

Some have been able to resist this primal urge, but it is difficult to tell who can control the urge and who can’t.  The safest course would be to avoid them, but it is difficult to tell if they are hybrids, unless they are undressed because their abdomen is the only difference.  All this uncertainty and violence has made Mack come alive again. He is thrilled to be part of a hunt again, even if he is the prey.  He has become buddies with the few male spiders left who chose not to mate for fear of death.  They run an underground railroad for males who wish to escape the Chelicerae (fang-like claws) of entrapment and ultimately death.  The Doctor ultimately leaves him on Chelicarae

 Scenario ThreeCool Hand Luca:  A young girl, Luca, gets into trouble one night by throwing rocks at some cars’ windows in the Brooklyn hood.  She is about to be arrested when the Doctor intervenes knowing that if she does get arrested, her life is over at this point and he because that she is the female equivalent of the story, Cool Hand Luke.  Like Luke, if she goes to jail, she will become influential to her jail mates, but she will create resentment from the prison guards who will ultimately cause her early demise. 

He tries to give her some hope for her future and show her that she could contribute to the wonders of the universe.  Along the way, he discovers that she does actually have some amazing talents.  She can talk to the TARDIS and can maintain and fix it better than he can.  Her tough exterior and manner can often distract enemies while he searches for their weaknesses and the TARDIS can see that underneath all that hard armor Luca has a soft side, not unlike the TARDIS itself.

Gwen McLernon

George Lucas & His Retirement

It’s been all over the news lately that with the release of Lucasfilm’s Red Tails George Lucas plans on retiring from blockbuster, i.e. popular films. Lucas cites the hard time he had trying to get Red Tails financed by studios (before he wound up paying for most of the film himself) and hints at the bitter reaction from many fans over his Star Wars prequels. In a New York Times Magazine interview he states, “I’m retiring, I’m moving away from the business, from the company, from all this kind of stuff.”

But looking at this and other interviews, one can spot a loophole or two. He does not rule out a fifth Indiana Jones film, although the older Harrison Ford gets and the longer it takes for Lucas to approve a script the less likely that becomes. Then there is the Star Wars live-action series that he is still trying to get off the ground. That looks more likely since advancements in special effects will soon make it financially feasible for Lucas to produce film-quality episodes of his galaxy-spanning saga.

Actually, his so-called retirement isn’t exactly news. Back when Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released, Lucas said then that he wanted to move away from blockbuster films. And even further back when Return of the Jedi came out, he claimed back then he wanted to focus on small, experimental projects. For many fans still bitter about Jar Jar Binks and Indy surviving a nuke blast in a fridge that’s great news. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out George, they may be thinking. But to others this is sad news and cements the fact that there won’t be any future Star Wars films.

Then again, look at his earliest efforts, THX-1138 and American Graffiti. Many forget today that both films were quirky, experimental pieces of filmmaking but are rightfully considered classics today. That’s especially true with THX-1138 since even today the film is seen as an avant-garde film. Whereas American Graffit is seen as a more conventional film it actually helped introduce the storytelling narrative of the main characters going off on their individual tangents without a set plot. That is because this technique has been copied so many times since. So Lucas probably just wants to go back to his roots and make quieter, low-budget films. That’s fine, since he did a superb job in directing them and at this point in his career, being that he is set financially, he can now afford to do whatever he wants.

Oh by the way, don’t forget that along with THX-1138 his other early genre effort was a little-known film at that time about some kid running around in spaceships with aliens. Yes that was Star Wars, but it was considered to be a huge risk for 20th Century Fox and experimental. So don’t write George Lucas off just yet.

Lewis T. Grove

The Term “SCI-FI”

When I was a kid, growing up in the Amazon in South America, I was far away from Hollywood, USA , where great superhero and space adventures were chronicled in film and other media. I must say that as much as I missed the developed comforts that the U.S. can offer, I liked the weather and the people down there. The only thing that made me stand out in general conversation topics was that instead of talking the usual futbol , or politica , I tried to start the conversation with superheroes and space heroes. The usual reaction I got from the locals after tolerating my monologue for an hour is “mucha fantasia!” or “too much fantasy!” The mindset there is reality-oriented. I’m sure they love reality TV.

One of the movie magazines I brought with me to South America had articles with the termSci-Fi . As a little kid, it’s amazing how a little term boggled my elementary school attempts for pronunciation. “Skee-Fee?” “Sky-Fy?” Boy, lots of gray brain matter at work there. A helpful parenthesis in the article related the term sci-fi to science fiction. Oh! That’s what it was! Duh! I’m a true genius!

I began collecting more sci-fi magazines, books and comic books. Before long I had a sizable collection and was amassing a fair knowledge of sci-fi and superhero stories. I even had a few issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Back to that later.

Years afterward, and back in the good ol’ USA , I was working for a publishing company in New York City. One of their publications was a general science fiction magazine. Their science fiction editor always had a fit when we said “sci-fi.” We used to listened to his tantrums. The same one from last Tuesday LOL. A mental list of anger-management classes crossed my mind during his rants. He argued that it was incorrect to say “sci-fi” (surrounded by piles and piles of magazines paperbacks, statuettes and toys of that favorite genre of his — the sci-fi genre, thank you very much.) He said that was a term coined by Forrest Ackerman, but it’s not a real term. (Try telling that to the ‘not-a-real-term’ Channel; that was before it started to drift away from its roots and changed its name to Syfy). As much as we liked this fellow, he just needed to lighten up a bit! All joking aside, I have much respect for this editor friend of mine, and I wish him well.

Almost ten years later, I had moved to Los Angeles. I found out that Forrest Ackerman (who first coined the term sci-fi) , publisher of the cult favorite Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, was living here in L.A. I spoke to him by phone and he invited me to his Museum of Sci-Fi in Hollywood. He was in his late 80’s, but he was gracious to give me a tour of his museum for me.

We spoke about some of my genre-related projects.  I told him they were my own attempt at capturing the essence of sci-fi, which for me was a way to telling stories related to current events and the social commentary of our time, fueled by wild imagination. It’s too much fantasy indeed, but I like it!

After giving me a tour of his best collections (my favorite was the Metroplis robot Maria) we sat down to listen to his great career. He actually told me how he came up with the term  sci-fi. “In 1954” he explained, “that word was first heard in this world. I was riding around in my car with the radio on and some mention was made of ‘hi-fi.’ Since ‘science fiction’ had been on the tip of my tongue since Hugo Gernsback introduced it in 1929 (in his science fiction mag Science Wonder Stories), I looked in the rearview mirror, stuck out my tongue and there, tattooed on the end of it was . . . SCI-FI!”

What a great anecdote to cap off a pleasant visit; he was such a nice guy. Sadly, Forrest Ackerman passed away in December 2008, but I feel honored to have met him and we should all thank him for coming up with that wonderful term. So that’s how my sci-fi term comes full circle. Hope you enjoyed it. Too much fantasy, man!

GEO

Visit GEO’s website: www.coroflot.com/geodesigns/portfolio

Fringe Nears Its End

Fringe ends its mid-season break when it airs a new episode “Back To Where You’ve Never Been” on Friday the 13th (!) on Fox.

Sadly, this may be the swan song for the show being that its ratings have been terrible. Fox president Kevin Reilly said recently that the show isn’t profitable which most likely means that it’s on the chopping block. A shame really. Fringe (about federal investigations into incidents dealing with fringe science) is the best science fiction show currently airing and credit has to go to the producers (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and J.J. Abrams) for throwing caution into the wind and running full steam with the show’s complex mythology in this season.

Last time on Fringe, Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) returned from limbo into our universe much to the chagrin of the enigmatic Observers (who seem to be trying to maintain the dimensional and temporal cohesion of the multiverse). Unfortunately, Peter concludes that the universe he returned to is not his own because no one, not even his father Water Bishop (John Noble) or lover FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) have any memory of him since he was erased from our  timeline.

Yes it’s a bit complicated, but here goes: throughout the show’s run there has been an impending war brewing between our universe and another parallel universe due to an incursion made by Walter back in the 1980s to a parallel world (where the World Trade Center is intact and airships dot the skies) to save Peter’s life and winds up bringing him to live in our universe.

All the interdimensional traveling is causing wormholes to appear that threaten to destroy the fabric of reality in both universes. At the end of the third season, the show jumps forward to 2026 where the parallel world is destroyed and ours face the same fate. Then there’s Olivia’s death at the hands of the evil alternate version of Walter. To reverse this, Peter Bishop uses a giant machine placed in the ancient past to change history in 2011. He creates an interdimensional bridge between the two universes so that both sides can work together and resolve their differences. It works, though it leaves an uneasy truce between the two factions and with Peter erased from the proper timeline.

For the most part the changes to the timeline have been very minor apart from Peter’s absence. The characters have changed subtly and only dedicated fans could spot the differences. This could be what disappointed some who expected wilder changes but it probably was an attempt by the show makers not to turn off casual viewers (not that it mattered since ratings plummeted anyway). At the end of the mid-season finale “Wallflower”, Peter was still trying to find his way back to his proper universe with the Observers on his tail.  Meanwhile it’s reveled that Olivia is an unsuspecting test subject of Massive Dynamic (one of those giant technological companies that are behind many fringe events). Click onto their official site: www.massivedynamic.com   

Obviously it helps if one has a good basic knowledge of the characters. Well that’s why DVDs exist. Being that it’s only three and a half seasons, it’s fairly easy to catch up to date. And it’s worth a rental or download. The show may have turned some off with its superficial similarities to The X-Files and the first few episodes of season one reinforce this notion. But this show isn’t about convoluted conspiracies that don’t make any sense and UFOs.  One could tell that the producers (responsible for LOST and the upcoming Alcatraz) have a game plan that rewards patient viewing. More or less all the weird stuff going on in this show (such as an invisible ex-soldier, a desperate scientist who mutilates his body in order to time travel and save his wife, or children who are born and rapidly mature into adulthood) that the standalone episodes are part of a larger tapestry where Walter Bishop is in the center of, thanks to his scientific brilliance. And his same brilliance research and theories in the past have also cost him dearly in terms of his sanity and relationship with Peter.

Fringe faces an uphill battle to get a fifth season greenlit. On Fox there are a three other genre shows vying for airtime. They include Terra Nova, Alcatraz and Touch. Add to that those moronic singing competition shows that eat up entire programming slots and there’s only so many shows the network will keep on the air.

What’s distressing is that the show more or less has a five-year story plan, meaning they only need a couple dozen episodes to bring the show to a proper conclusion. Fox could do the producers a favor and either renew the show for a final year perhaps with only thirteen episodes to conclude it, or give them enough notice that Fringe will be canceled this season so they can try to wrap up the series. If the second option happens then hopefully the show won’t feel truncated like season four of Babylon 5. That show suffered when it was forced to conclude its main storyline in the fourth season only to find out that a fifth season was greenlit. This led to a listless final season that didn’t seem to go anywhere in terms of story.

Of course, the worst fate is an outright cancellation that doesn’t give the producers time to conclude the show. This leaves fans with unanswered questions like who are the Observers and what is their agenda? Then there is the other terrible fate: a show that ends on a cliffhanger. Reassurances from the producers that they are seeking other venues to finish the show don’t help. It’s a rarity that another network picks up a canceled show and seriously, who wants to read a comic book or novel that finishes a live action story? It won’t feel complete and only serves to remind fans over how they were denied a proper ending. In the meantime, fans can enjoy the new slate of episodes that will be airing over the next few weeks.

José Soto

Check out this clip from the latest episode and groove to the psychedelic background music from Tommy James and the Shondells!