Category: Con Culture


Fletcher costumes

This week saw the passing of Robert Fletcher at age 98.  If you don’t know the name, you definitely know his work.  Nobody creating the 20th century’s view of futurism through clothing was more influential than Fletcher, who created more Star Trek costumes than any other designer, including William Ware Theiss before him and Robert Blackman after him.  The maroon costumes worn by bridge officers in the first seven Star Trek movies were designed by Fletcher, and are likely the most beloved of all Star Trek costumes by fans excepting possibly the original series bright Starfleet tunics.  Scotty’s radiological suit is also a classic, along with the Klingon uniforms, which were probably the most enduring, used with little modification from Star Trek: The Motion Picture throughout the entire runs of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  The open-chested costume of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan?  Also Fletcher.  The widest reach outside genre fans that Star Trek ever achieved was Star Trek IV, and even those who don’t care about science fiction recall the robe worn by Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the pink shell outfit worn by William Shatner as Kirk when they returned to walk the streets of San Francisco, managing to save a pair of humpback whales on the journey.  Again, costumes designed by Robert Fletcher.  He also created costumes for another sci-fi classic: The Last Starfighter.

Star Trek and its stories continue on.

ST retro reaction figs banner

By way of new stuff, in the “old is new again” context this week online megastore Entertainment Earth began taking pre-orders for a new retro series not from the movies featuring the original Enterprise crew, but from Star Trek: The Next Generation (which, if you’re paying attention, featured costumes primarily by Robert Blackman).  We’ve talked at length over the past decade about Super7’s line (formerly sold by Funko) of ReAction Kenner-style retro action figures.  Those familiar with Star Trek action figures will find the new line closer to that of the early, rarer Galoob line than the Playmates larger figures that dominated the market for years (and can now be found in vintage toy stores everywhere, generally for about $2).  Check out all the new designs, and the new cardbacks, and pre-order them at the below links.

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Jupiter's Legacy banner

April has seen several new trailers for forthcoming Hollywood projects we haven’t discussed yet at borg, all having in common a new look at a past genre property.  From Ghostbusters, it’s a new teaser for Ghostbusters: Afterlife featuring star Paul Rudd and a familiar face (and music) from the past.  From Mark Millar it’s a live-action version of his Jupiter’s Legacy comics coming to Netflix as a series.  From DC Comics it’s an animated adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s popular Batman: The Long Halloween graphic novel.  And from Star Trek, it’s a new season of the animated Lower Decks, and a look at some new costumes in the trailer for the fourth season of Discovery.

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Enjoy these trailers:

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Goodall portrait

Along with plenty of science fiction reviewed here at borg, we’ve covered “science fact” and making the world a better place through natural science and ecology and we love to review new cookbooks that come along, especially if tied to something we’re interested in.  We also love superheroes, and it’s difficult to find a superhero that ranks higher on our list than Jane Goodall, known first and best for her study of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania–now 60-year study–and more recently as a protector and advocate for the planet.  Working with her Jane Goodall Institute she’s released a new environmentally friendly cookbook #EATMEATLESS: Good for Animals, The Earth & All We tried one of the recipes, and you can check out a few for yourself in the below preview of this new cookbook.

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Jaxxon fig A  Jaxxon fig B

The Star Wars vintage Kenner action figures changed toys and franchising forever.  Sales of this line were so successful that it’s no surprise the fan nostalgia for these 3.75-inch figures in new packages is still as great as ever, 44 years after their first appearance in a pre-order campaign for Christmas 1977.  Disney’s line of six-inch “Black Series” has quickly caught up to the original line of characters, with new sculpts and more articulation, including even more characters from the Expanded Universe.  At last fans of the original Star Wars comics published by Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s get to see one of the most beloved of all the characters we haven’t yet seen on the big or small screen (but we’re still hoping for that soon): Jaxxon, the six-foot tall Lepi mercenary smuggler from Star Wars Issue #8, Eight for Aduba-3, the Seven Samurai adaptation where we first met the angry talking rabbit and his ship, the Rabbit’s Foot.  

Jaxxon

Jaxxon stayed around for the next three issues and returned for the first appearance of the borg Valance.  Our first real hope of seeing Jaxxon in Star Wars canon was in a variant cover for the rebooted Marvel Comics Star Wars series in 2015, then he re-appeared in the retro Star Wars Issue #108 in 2019, and again for Vader Down.  And this weekend for the first time you can pre-order Jaxxon’s first action figure here from Entertainment Earth.

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FCBD 2021 Judge Dredd  FCBD 2021 School Extra Girls

A long time from now in a galaxy far, far away–actually at your local comic book shop–Free Comic Book Day is returning for 2021.  Often overlapping with the annual Star Wars Day–May the Fourth–this year it’s being pushed out a few months to Saturday, August 14.  A good excuse to visit your local comic book shop and get re-introduced to some series you may have missed, the annual FCBD is also a way to check out some titles you may otherwise have overlooked.  This week comic book retailers revealed the results of the FCBD committee’s selections for this year’s freebies.  What made the cut?  It seems plenty early, but now you have no excuse to know what you want when you get to the front of the line.  Below, check out some of the covers and titles coming your way for FCBD 2021 this August!

FCBD 2021 Sonic  FCBD 2021 Star Wars

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been watching Michael Apted’s ground-breaking Up Series from its first installments, you know each new chapter in the real-life time travel journey makes the viewer feel like he or she has also reached some kind of achievement with the arrival of the new episode.  But the series of documentaries is not for the faint-hearted, filled with gut-wrenching views into participants’ lives, participants who feel like family after watching them over 56 years since their first appearance.  So compelling and personal is Apted’s look at this select group of fourteen English boys and girls turned men and women, revisiting them every seven years of their lives since 1964, the documentary series is practically an interactive experience.  With Apted passing away since the UK premiere last year, and the U.S. arrival of the latest installment–the eagerly awaited 63 Up arriving on BritBox via Amazon Prime this weekend–the question is whether this ninth installment is the last.  Key members of the crew since 28 Up have expressed an interest in continuing the series in 2027, but until then expect this to be a bittersweet end for the series, which Roger Ebert called the noblest project in cinema history and among the ten best films ever made.

At last Apted addresses the thesis of the show to each participant, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man,” and asks whether they agree after decades participating in this unique social experiment.  Apted was a researcher when working on director Paul Almond’s Seven Up! in 1964.  Seven years later the well-known director of Gorillas in the Mist, The World is Not Enough, Coal Miner’s Daughter and Gorky Park, was just out of university, and at 22 he revisited the original Seven Up! project.  He would go on to direct the subsequent eight episodes over 56 years.  The idea was to get a glimpse of England in the future year 2000 when these kids, the future leaders of England, were only seven years old.  It is difficult to surpass the jolts and surprises of 42 Up, but 63 Up holds its own, although sadly viewers will say goodbye to one participant who has died, another is seriously ill, and another decided not to participate.

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The mists of Ravenloft are rising.  Overcome your dread or forever be its prisoner!

Hot on the heels of this month’s release of Candlekeep Mysteries, the new Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign sourcebook Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft explores the mysteries of Ravenloft, mist-shrouded lands where infamous Darklords lurk among ageless vampires, zombie hordes, cosmic terrors, and worse.  Create your own Domains of Dread, settings to host endless terrifying adventures, or join the ranks of haunted heroes who embrace macabre lineages, dual-edged Dark Gifts, haunted subclasses, and other forbidden powers.  Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft contains everything you need to craft a horror-themed campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, and unleash a treasure trove of new story hooks, character options, and campaign customization.  You pre-order the standard library cover here from Wizards of the Coast at Amazon now, or order the alternate shimmering, soft-touch edition from your local gameshop.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Not just a new adventure for your next Dungeons & Dragons campaign, the new 5th edition adventure anthology Candlekeep Mysteries is a different way to enhance gameplay from Wizards of the Coast.  First, it opens up the realm of creators creating the stories behind your next adventure.  It’s 17 contained adventures all centered on a visit to the Forgotten Realm’s renowned towering library fortress of Candlekeep.  Each adventure has a book– a rarity, serving as a clue, a key, a totem or token, a container, or treasure–at the center of a mystery.  And each adventure can be played as a standalone, or, it can supplement another campaign, so a Dungeon Master can splice in one of these stories to places like the Soltryce Academy of Wildemount, the Library of Korranberg in Eberron, the University Library in Sharn, or the Great Library of Greyhawk.  Plus new monsters.  New magic items.  New characters.

Which adventure will you begin with?

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Every new technological creation seems to eventually arrive at a point where you can buy it at 99 percent off its original price.  It’s the classic 99% off sale.  And while it’s not true for everything, we can see it in many ways across the decades.  Look at something like the simple calculator, once a giant machine costing thousands of dollars, ultimately it came down in price (and size) to fit in your wallet as a free giveaway as businesses all over stamped an advertisement on the back as a marketing tool.  Today it’s a free feature on nearly every personal computer and android phone.  In the 1990s Connie Willis focused on the emerging technology of animating dead people in films in her groundbreaking novel Remake (discussed here at borg back in 2012).  It happened and it’s only getting better.  As recently as December Star Wars fans saw Mark Hamill reprise a young Luke Skywalker via imaging software in The Mandalorian, and probably the best use so far can be found by the de-aging of Michael Douglas in the Ant-Man movies. 

In basements (and governments?) across the world software designers and users dabble in “deep fake” imaging, attempting to push this technology to defraud (or prevent the defrauding of) others by digitally replacing faces in all kinds of video recordings.  Imagine making such video images by uploading a static image and simply pressing a button.  Guess what?  Now anyone can.  Look to an unlikely source to visit the future, thanks to a genealogy company’s new software program that costs its subscribers… nothing.  Quietly slipping in its own add-on free to its pay subscribers, a surprisingly good “artificial intelligence” turns any photograph into a short animation.  Yes, you, too, can re-animate the dead, maybe not as Mary Shelley envisioned more than 200 years ago, but take a look for yourself…

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Like Jon Krakauer’s account of the May 1996 disastrous climb up Mt. Everest (Into Thin Air) prompted only more people in subsequent years to make the climb, and like Krakauer’s account of ill-fated adventurer Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild) drove more adventurers into the Alaskan outback, more than 125 years earlier the tale of a man separated from his exploration party in Yellowstone for 37 days would prompt excitement across America that would result in President Grant naming the forest of geysers, hot springs, sulfur pots, geological features, and waterfalls the first national park.  The man lost in the wilderness was Truman Everts, and his first-hand accounts of his trials in Yellowstone (the longest anyone has ever been lost in the park and not discovered dead) is recounted in Lost in the Yellowstone (New Edition), a thrilling account of being lost and alone with only the clothes on his back with snow, storms, mountain lions, bears, wolves and coyotes.

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