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Tag Archive: Twilight Zone


Green Blooded cloaked Predator SDCC 2014 Entertainment Earth variant SDCC 2014 Rocketeer black and white variant

Did you miss out on San Diego Comic-Con this year?  Taking the sting out of missing the big annual show, both Gentle Giant and Entertainment Earth are making their SDCC 2014 exclusives available to everyone.  Although a few items have already sold out, there are plenty of great busts and action figures that will provide something of interest for every sci-fi, superhero, and fantasy fan.  Click on any image above or below to go to the store listing for prices and availability.

Number One on our list of the coolest action figures of the year is the above variant Predator figure from Funko’s ReAction retro-action figure line.  We’ve seen one of these up close and not only is this a nicely constructed figure with great packaging, it looks like the character cloaked in the film and it comes with green blood splatter applied to the figure and even the box–splatter that was part of the plot of the movie and not just a sales gimmick.  This figure sold out fast, but don’t worry, you can pre-order now for its re-release.  After the break check out several variant retro-Kenner figures only available for a limited time, including Firefly’s Jayne Cobb and his famous hat, a Malcolm Reynolds with Browncoat.  Even new figures from The Twilight Zone of William Shatner and Burgess Meredith!

Rocket Raccoon SDCC 2013 Gentle Giant

The high point of the Gentle Giant exclusives is this great Rocket Raccoon bust that we previewed earlier at borg.com.  You can just hear Rocket ranting about something, gritting his teeth as he rescues the Guardians of the Galaxy team.

For retro fans, Gentle Giant has three other SDCC exclusives for sale.  Check out this two-foot tall Alien figure–inspired by the unreleased Kenner figure from the 1980s:

Alien classic Kenner figure SDCC 2013 Gentle Giant

And how about the latest in Gentle Giant’s line of jumbo-sized classic Kenner Star Wars action figures, one of Kenner’s best, the AT-AT Driver from The Empire Strikes Back:

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EUROPA-REPORT-Poster

We’ve previewed the first trailer for Matt Damon’s science fiction film, Elysium, earlier this year.  Writer/director Neill Blomkamp offers his next entry in the science fiction as social commentary vein following his very successful District 9, one of the few films ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.  This second trailer for Elysium reveals a far more layered and interesting film than that shown in the first preview, however, it suffers from the problem on the other side of the spectrum:  It just reveals too much.  It’s possible the marketing folks think they need to show more to get people interested and into the theaters, but you wish there was a better, middle ground to be found.  Still, it looks great.

Check out the second trailer released for Elysium:

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Syfy New logo

Last night the Syfy Channel premiered a new show documenting its 20 years of bringing science fiction and related programming to cable TV.  The Syfy Channel 20th Anniversary Special chronicles the key landmarks of the channel going back to its inception in 1992 as a network of mostly reruns of classic sci-fi series like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and the original Star Trek, as well as collecting and expanding upon series that didn’t make it on other networks, like Sliders and Andromeda.  The 2-hour show is a great way to reminisce about all the good–and bad–TV that has sucked you in, featuring commentary by series creators and cast, and narrated by Lois and Clark star Dean Cain.

Actors Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Michael Shanks discuss the first big hit for the network originally called the Sci Fi Channel: the Stargate franchise, including Stargate SG-1, and spinoffs Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, as well as the made-for-TV movies.

Then there were early series that didn’t last long, like USA Network series that moved to Sci Fi, like Good vs. Evil, The Invisible Man, Welcome to Paradox, and Mission Genesis.

Ben Browder and Claudia Black chat about the four seasons of the Australian production, Farscape, the next big series for the Sci Fi Channel.  The renaissance of science fiction fans fighting for a series to return occurred with Farscape, resulting in Brian Henson bring a 4-hour mini-series event to round out and tie up the loose ends of the series.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Rachel Rising disturbs me.  Terry Moore’s art disturbs me.  Most of all, Terry Moore’s story disturbs me.

The thing is… it’s supposed to.

Everyone is creepy in the quaint, pastoral town called Manson.  If you need help in Manson, you pretty much have no one to turn to.  Soon you will be dead or undead, or living or working with some unspeakable horror in your midst.  Remember young Billy Mumy’s character in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life”?  I’m convinced he lived in Manson.  And the neighbor across the street?  An adorable little girl named Zoe who has just lost her family and house.  And her newly proposed foster family has a psycho in it.  Of course, Zoe just killed a few people herself.  Including her babysitter.  You see, every time Zoe sees the beautiful blonde woman, someone dies.  Sometimes by her own hand.  Who is that woman, who can be seen only by a few people, and why can she push her will onto others?

But the story is not about Zoe.  It’s about Rachel.  In the beginning Rachel is dead, pulling herself from a shallow grave by getting a foothold on…what’s that?  Someone else’s corpse.  She’s been strangled.  But Rachel has come back for more, despite being repeatedly knocked back down.  She doesn’t understand why she’s alive any more than we do.  Along this strange trip Rachel meets a woman in the bathroom at a local jazz club and can’t help but sharing that she won’t make it to her wedding day.  Rachel has seen the woman’s coming death.  Petrified the woman rushes away.  Minutes later the woman is pushed off the roof, onto Rachel, killing both in the process.

Meanwhile Zoe and the fiancée accidentally (?!) intentionally (?!) meet up in the woods to hide their recently murdered victims.  And little Zoe finishes off the fiancée.  Why not?  And why is she so vicious about it?  It’s all bad in the quaint, pastoral town of Manson.

In the beginning, and a bit of a deja vu later, Rachel’s aunt Johnny and brunette BFF named Jet can’t believe that Rachel is dead (again).  Aunt Johnny works as a mortician, and unfortunately she knows this victim all too well.  But Johnny and Jet are even more surprised when she sits up alive.  Rachel is more dead than alive, the doctor tells her.  He also thinks Rachel is the angel of death.  But he has his own issues.  He is living at home with a 30-year old corpse.

It’s all so eerie, spooky and… oogy.

Later, Rachel and Johnny and Jet and Zoe’s stories intersect, and they collide with an 18-wheeler.

Then bodies inexplicably burst out of the town’s cemetery.  Jet dies in the car wreck, to return and join Rachel as another member of the undead.  Is she a zombie?  The doctor says no.  Is she an angel?  Jet won’t believe it.  Just prop her body up in front of a television, she’ll be all right.

Moore is at Issue #8 of the series and there is no sign of saving any of us from this town ravaged by an unknown evil.  How does this mild-mannered writer of Strangers In Paradise and Echo create such a horrific tale?  What unspeakable skeletons are hiding within the Moore household?  I really don’t want to know.

Probably most surprising is the juxtaposition between Moore’s beautiful lead females, Rachel and Jet and Zoe, and the ghoulish, macabre, palpable darkness that seems to emanate from the crossroads in the woods.  Like Frank Cho’s women and Adam Hughes’ women, you’d know Terry Moore’s women if you were pushing your way through the halls at the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con and ran into one.  They are the ladies with the little slightly askew noses and the bright all-knowing eyes.

Beautiful fall leaves stretch across the open grave.  It’s getting cold in Manson.  It’s snowing, but is that really snow that’s falling?  I shudder to think where this is going.  I may just cover my eyes for the rest and crawl back into bed.  Someone please leave the lights on.

Rachel Rising has been nominated for not one but two Harvey Awards: Best New Series and Best Continuing or Limited Series.  It made the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award 2012 Reading List.  And we will find out in a few weeks whether it secures the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series and the coveted Best Writer/Artist Award to Moore for his work.

Moore is scheduled to be at Comic-Con again this year and we hear he is bringing original art for sale.  He and wife Robyn’s Abstract Studios will be featured in a panel in Room 23ABC on Comic-Con Thursday.  Issues #1-6 are now available at Amazon as the Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death trade paperback and more recent issues are available at comic book stores everywhere.

Review by C.J. Bunce

It really comes down to one thing.  Is the art of Ryan Sook, the superb cover artist for series like Justice League Dark, good enough to cause you to spend $7.99 for an 80-page comic book?  Let’s come back to that.

As you may know, Vertigo is an imprint of DC Comics, known for stories targeted at mature readers, including elements of stepped up violence, sexuality, horror and just plain controversial subjects not easily absorbed by the mainstream audience.  Mystery in Space is a classic comic book series beginning in the 1950s, known for great sci-fi stories including stories featuring Adam Strange.  Suspense and intrigue were key to the original series, and they often had the feel of Twilight Zone stories.

Along with titles like G.I. Combat and Worlds Finest, DC has been making the best of grabbing readers through a little bit of nostalgia, and the title and classic cover of the one-shot anthology Mystery in Space #1, in the style of the original 1950s series, is step one in reeling new readers in.  As with short story anthologies, the challenge is whether a writer can really put together a narrative with a beginning, middle and end that can be compelling, exciting, and original, in just a few pages.

The new Mystery in Space is good.  Good enough that it leaves the reader wanting more.  Sure, not every entry in an anthology will be great or even good.  That’s the beauty of an anthology–if it’s good there will be something for everyone.  But there is no reason DC cannot continue churning out anthologies like this of classic themed sci-fi stories.

The book starts out with a bang, and the first story “Verbinksy Doesn’t Appreciate It” is a great story about a cyborg with an unwanted cybernetic arm and a classic storytelling session among typical guys in a bar.  Written by Duane Swierczynski and illustrated by Ramon Bachs, the story blends alien abduction and The Matrix.   Smart and dark, at 8 pages, Bachs conveys panic and emotion nicely.

Green Arrow: Year One and Adam Strange writer Andy Diggle joined forced with artist Davide Gianfelice on “Transmission.”  Billions of lives are at stake in a Star Trek Voyager “Year of Hell” throwback, with a female ambassador taking on a computer that rules all like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Quick plot movement and a satisfying resolution highlight this as one of the best stories in the set, although it ends off the mark a bit.  I’d love to see more books drawn by Bachs and Gianfelice.  Gianfelice’s giant star map room is evocative of Data’s star room in Star Trek Generations.

Writer/artist Ming Doyle serves double duty on “Asleep to See You,” an account of two women pulled apart by time and space.  At one level the life and times of a flight attendant of the future, it packs a surprising amount of emotion and delivers a classic Twilight Zone resolution of the happy ever after variety.  A simple story, written in a simple style, Doyle proves you don’t need a lot of blatant sci-fi elements to have a successful sci-fi story.

Probably the weakest of the anthology is Ann Nocenti’s “Here Nor There,” which spends too much time with clever dialogue and not enough time with character development.  Fred Harper’s unique style didn’t work for me, at least tied up with this story.  Not awful, just one to read and then move on.

“The Elgort” is a story more fantasy than sci-fi, and I really liked the adventure story by writer Nnedi Okorafor and artist Michael Kaluta.  Like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, it follows a girl flying across a strange land with varying levels of beastie threats.  A little Avatar and a little Predator, this story has a cool feel and interesting voice.

Writer Steve Orlando provides a cool glimpse at a coming of age story for centaurs in some far away place in “Breeching.”  Artist Francesco Trifogli illustrates a tale reflecting a culture not unlike Mr. Spock’s Vulcan race, struggling with the question “am I a man, or am I a horse?”  Not a lot of resolution but themes of loyalty and conformity are well-played here.

Probably the most controversial of the bunch, “Contact High” covers a love triangle among three astronauts on a space mission, and the inevitable result when idle minds in tight quarters erupt against each other.  A psychological mini-drama, Robert Rodi and Sebastian Fiumara tell their story effectively, with Fiumara’s art and need special effects renderings the better part of the team-up.

Kevin McCarthy and Kyle Baker’s “The Dream Pool” is full of action but the over-wordy story and big-eyed girl art put this at the bottom of the anthology.  There’s probably a good story here but it feels like the creators would have been served by fleshing out the story and art better–it seems a bit rushed.

Sweeping colors, simple concepts and epic level weirdness puts Mike and Laura Allred’s “Alpha Meets Omega” among the best of Mystery in Space.   Amazingly they deal, again in only a few pages, with the most heavy of concepts in a refreshing way, that will leave readers hopeful in the face of loss.

“Verbinksy Doesn’t Appreciate It” and “Alpha Meets Omega” really perfectly bookend the anthology, illustrating some good editing thoughts went into this compilation.

So, back to the first question: Is the art of Ryan Sook good enough to cause you to spend $7.99 for an 80-page comic book? 

The answer is yes, as I hesitated before buying this issue, but Sook’s awesome blending of fantasy and science fiction with this seventeenth century Valkyrie with archaic or steampunk tools painting a star map inside the hull of her spacecraft, pushed me over the edge.  Luckily what resides inside the covers does not disappoint.

Ray Bradbury passed away Tuesday at the age of 91.  Bradbury was inspired to write at the age of 12 when a carnival magician tapped him with a sword and said “live forever!”  Director and Bradbury fan Steven Spielberg said yesterday “In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination, he is immortal.”

To most people Bradbury conjures up the classic American anti-censorship novel Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles as his most popular works, along with The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes But if you really want to see the broad scope of Bradbury’s work, you could hardly find any creative works more engaging than his TV series The Ray Bradbury Theater and his thick compilation book The Stories of Ray Bradbury or the revised version Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales.  It is telling that he has a book that highlights one hundred of his best stories.  Stories like “The Casket,” a tale of feuding brothers gone very, very wrong that was adapted for screen on Bradbury Theater, or “A Sound of Thunder,” where a misstep on a time traveling hunting trip has terrible ramifications for the future.

Six seasons, from 1985 to 1992, of the popular Canadian series The Ray Bradbury Theater provide a “story of the week” much like Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the Canadian Friday the 13th TV series.  Always creative, each episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater focused on the fantastical, the magical, often a mysterious item inspired by Bradbury’s own possessions, many written by or derived from classic Bradbury tales.  In one standout episode, “Great Wide World Over There,” Tyne Daly stars as a woman on an isolated farm with a much older husband.  Creepiness, and sometimes outright horror permeates Bradbury’s stories.

Bradbury passed away as Earthlings saw a rare glimpse of Venus passing across the Sun.

Bradbury saw himself as a fantasy writer, and believe audiences miscategorized his works like this as science fiction.

Luckily, The Ray Bradbury Theater is easy to find to catch up on episodes.  It’s on the list of series available from Netflix and available for sale at online stores like Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

Outer space looks so peaceful and tranquil from the images we have received over the years from NASA astronauts.  Yet the reality of space is that it is an unforgiving place, and impossible to survive in without adequate protective gear.  Without a space suit you would lose consciousness within seconds because there is no oxygen.  Blood boils and then freezes because of the lack of air pressure.  Extreme changes in temperature would kill you one way or the other:  In sunlight temperatures reach 248 degrees Fahrenheit and in shade temperatures drop to -148 Fahrenheit.  And you’d be exposed to radiation.  Basically, no spacesuit… and you’re done for.

Above is an image of the actual space suits used by American astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s.  I grew up with stories from my dad about being on one of the recovery ships for John Glenn’s (first!) historic space flight.  I was fortunate to have worked with a NASA spacesuit on display at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution on the Moon Landing’s 20th anniversary, and witnessed the three Apollo 11 astronauts speaking of their journey.  Since then I have met two other men who went to the moon.  On the one hand they are just people like everyone else.  On the other, they all realize they have done something incredible.

Harrison H. Schmitt, the 12th and last man to walk on the moon, at book launch with Elizabeth C. Bunce and C.J. Bunce.

I’ve also been lucky enough to see in person not only the several space capsules in Washington, DC, but something I never thought I’d see when I was a kid–Gus Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 capsule, cleaned up after being found at the bottom of the Atlantic resulting from his controversial flight.  Real life space travel carries a special kind of magic, and to try to match it, Hollywood has its work cut out for it.

Gus Grissom’s restored Liberty Bell 7 module, now at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.

More than a century of science fiction has recognized the need for some travel suit or the other for space travelers of the future.  As reflected in science fiction films, costumers in Hollywood have adapted to the cutting edge science of the day to perfect the look and feel of the future for their science fiction fan audience.  But it wasn’t until the space race that the modern real space suit look was established as the standard, when costumers realized that realistic travel in space required pressurized suits, including what is obvious today, components like gloves and airtight helmets.

Whether film producers are making TV series or movies, space suits end up as a large chunk of the production budget.  Looking right costs money.  Leading the way in the future of dress in outer space was the original Star Trek series and subsequent Star Trek series.  But because of budget constraints there was a surprising lack of actual space suits on each of these series.  Even though the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation referred to their shipwear as “space suits” on a daily basis on set, that’s not the type of gear we’re discussing here.  A chronicle of those types of suits would fill a book, from Star Trek to Babylon 5 to all the other science fiction TV series made by the Syfy Network alone.  Those typically form-fitting and more military styled suits were a much cheaper way to make a TV series that could survive financially.  Likewise, we’ll save for another day space pilot suits, like Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing fighter flight suit from Star Wars and Apollo’s Viper flight suit from Battlestar Galactica.  But even Star Trek was able to spend budget dollars on space “outer wear” over the years from time to time.

The following is a look at the change of the design of the space suit in film over the years.  Literally thousands of artists’ renderings of space suits can be found in countless covers to pulp novels, comic books, and other works, too.  Many of them influenced or mirrored the designs below, and ultimately the costume designers rarely stray from reflecting the forward looking vision of their time. Note: Please send us your updates, new images and old, suits we missed and those published since this article was written, care of editor@borg.com.

In the 1902’s A Trip to the Moon, probably the first real science fiction film, they didn’t even bother with a space suit, just the explorer’s formal dress of the day.

The dawn of sci-fi serials arrived.  In the 1950s serial Captain Video, the heroes wore basically modified football helmets and contemporary air force gear.

But Captain Video also had more futuristic garb.

In 1950’s Destination Moon, we see the first of the color-coded space walkers, a concept used as recently as in Star Trek 2009.

In 1950’s Space Patrol we begin to see a costuming theme–the multiple cuff rolls–an element that makes it to the Star Trek movies in the form of the radiological suits.

In 1951, serious science fiction comes of age with The Day the Earth Stood Still, and with it we get a peak at not what Earthlings might wear in space, but what the aliens already there wear.

In Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) we see more of the rolled armwear that would become typical of 1950s TV and film, and the glass globe found in many lesser sci-fi works.

More cuff rolls! With the comedy Have Rocket Will Travel (1959) the Three Stooges enter the Space Age.

Throughout the span of the series, The Twilight Zone featured several episodes focusing on astronauts, and made the best of a small budget, including these costumes in the episode Elegy…

… and Little People, again with the football helmet.

In 1961, no “costume” was necessary as Earth witnessed the first astronaut donning a space suit in outer space, with Yuri Gagarin’s epic flightas the first human in space.

In 1965 Lost in Space not only featured John Williams’ first sci-fi soundtrack, but cutting edge, cool space stories and characters filled the TV screen, including Dr. John Robinson’s space suit.

The TV series The Outer Limits offered up various versions of spacesuits in the early 1960s, but no performance in-suit was as memorable as that of William Shatner in the episode “Cold Hands, Warm Heart,” a realistic space suit like those worn by real astronauts.

In the 1970s one of my favorite comedic actors was Jerry Lewis. Being a kid I laughed at everything he did, and I remember not quite understanding more of the risque bits of his 1966 film with Connie Stevens about bringing both sexes together in space: Way, Way Out. It also makes me think this was the start of me thinking all space suits should be made of aluminum fabric.

My love of the silver space suits, of course, may also be because of the Mercury program space suits…

… and of the great astronaut G.I. Joe.

In 1966 the original Star Trek arrived. I’m not sure if it is truly a space suit or more of protective wear, but here is Spock sporting full gear in the episode The Naked Time.

1967 saw the first of the James Bond films addressing outer space with You Only Live Twice, with Russians in space.

In the bawdy comedy In Like Flint, James Coburn ends up in space with a silver suit… and good company

The typical bumbling Don Knotts role was even more fun in space, as seen in 1967’s The Reluctant Astronaut.

In 1968 Star Trek got real space suits instead of velour shirts, as seen here worn by the Enterprise crew in the classic episode The Tholian Web.

Upping the ante, Stanley Kubrick spared no expense to create multiple space suit variants for 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. Here we have that color-coding concept again.

Here is David’s red-orange suit close-up.

And the yellow version of the suit.

And 1960s camp participated in the Space Race as well, as seen in 1968’s Barbarella.

But it didn’t stay on long.

In the same year, Charlton Heston & Co. soar off in space gear to a very familar planet in The Planet of the Apes.

Tons of Doctor Who shows featured often bizarre space travel outfits.  One Doctor Who special had its own take on the space suit, here in the 1968 film Doctor Who and the Wheel in Space.  (Watch out for those Cybermen!)

In 1971, Earthlings saw Heston’s character leave in a rocket and apes return in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

Strange goings-on for Sean Connery’s James Bond in 1971’s Diamonds are Forever.

As a big John Carpenter fan, I was surprised his early film Dark Star was so hard to watch. And he used very odd space suits.

In 1975, Space: 1999 had Martin Landau and even women astronauts in these great, orange suits, similar to the Star Wars X-Wing pilot suits filmed around the same time.

I’ve heard that NASA loaned real space suits to The Six Million Dollar Man series for at least one episode. I wouldn’t be surprised, as they look perfect.

Here Jenny Agutter is shown guest starring on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man in a great suit.

In 1977 Capricorn One showed us what conspiracy theorists thought all along, that even the real astronauts were wearing costumes. Waterston, Brolin, and Simpson.

Strangely enough there are not a lot of space suits used in the Star Wars series since, like Star Trek, they didn’t have pressurization or other environmental concerns with their vehicles. One standout is an astronaut hanging at the Mos Eisley spaceport cantina. This photo is actually from the Superbowl ad from this year, creatures created by Tom Spina Design.

The original cantina guy in space suit.

Between 1978 and 1982, Mork & Mindy catapulted Robin Williams career. He arrived in a space suit complete with strange helmet. The series had access to the Star Trek archives and was able to use original series costumes and props.

In this episode of Mork & Mindy, Mindy’s dad wears a space suit consisting of the Star Trek original series Tholian Web space helmet mismatched with The Naked Time protective suit!

Come back tomorrow and we will continue with part 2–42 more uses of space suits in TV and movies, from 1979 to today.

By C.J. Bunce

Today we know what happened to Charles Van Doren, either through living through the aftermath of the quiz show scandals or watching the movie Quiz Show.  Like McCarthyism and later like Watergate, certain events poke at the public and make you question what is going on around you.  Comparing ourselves to readers in the 1950s we know that we never made it to Venus  colonization in the 1990s.  We know that Marilyn Monroe would die young.  We know that Tucker’s automobile would not get very far.  Imagine the era of the Cleavers in Leave it to Beaver.  When Sandra Dee didn’t have to worry about her future but could smile and make everyone happy on the big screen.  Imagine back to the world of the Twilight Zone, but the Twilight Zone neighborhoods before weird things start to happen.

To me, it all looks black and white.  That is of course because of television, because movies had color in the 1950s.  Kodak photos were in color in the 1950s.  But even if you grew up in the 1970s you got to see everything your parents watched because of the miracle of cable TV.

Of course Time Out of Joint could take place anywhere, but it is roughly 1958 when Philip K. Dick wrote Time Out of Joint that we meet Vic and Ragle and Margo and Junie and Bill.  A time when Charles Van Doren was winning game shows on television.  Upheaval in the Middle East.  Recession, millions unemployed.  Familiar?  A normal family: Vic who works the registers at the grocery store, stay-at-home wife but civically active Margo, and son Sammy.  Margo’s brother Ragle, irresponsible, single, 46 years old and flirts with the neighbor’s wife, lives with Vic and Margo and spends the day answering contest entries in the newspaper.  He works as hard as anyone who works full-time, simply to keep winning the contests, and he has won two years in a row–national champion, his photo published in the newspaper.  Publicity of Ragle as local winner was good for the local paper.

If you have ever moved across the country to a new city, you probably felt uneasy at first.  Maybe its the new trees that look like nothing you grew up with.  Ocean where you knew only plains.  Seasons that don’t change quite right.  Simple things like grocery store chains you never heard of in your several years as resident of planet Earth.  And yet some things are familiar and you gravitate toward those places.  Maybe it is something as familair as a Target store or A&W root beer stand.  Anything that can help you get your bearing.  maybe you put your phone down at home and later find it in your car.  Too much on your mind?  Or is it something else?

Neighbors Bill and Junie Black come over to Vic and Margo’s with espresso and lasagna one night.  And tidbits of information make the reader feel like something is a little off.  Sammy’s radio gets no signal, and we learn there has been no radio reception nearby for years.  As a reader, you are slowly sucked into a world like our expected America of the 1950s, but something makes us uneasy.  Vic walks into a room fumbling for a light cord that is not there.  He doesn’t remember the room having a light switch.  Soon Ragle becomes the central character in our trip back 50 years.

Vic is paranoid.  But not so much as Ragle.  No surprise, since this is the age of paranoia, right?  Russians, civil defense alerts…all ready for the Bay of Pigs coming soon to a bomb shelter near you.  Everyone is a bit… paranoid, everyone except Bill Black.  Vic suggests Ragle can pull it all together, after all, he solves riddles with data and charts and scientific-precision calculations in their living room.

Later in the week Ragle asks Junie to go swimming, a break from strategizing his contest entries.  She recalls walking up steps where there should have been three steps but there were only two.  Ragle can’t seem to get the oddities out of his brain.  He walks to the soft-drink stand to get a beer, and it dematerializes leaving a note that states “SOFT-DRINK STAND.”  Ragle thinks he is having a nervous breakdown.  He wants to quit the contests and take a vacation out of the country.  He tells Vic.  Vic and Ragle agree something is wrong.  Somehow “the time is out of joint.”

Sammy has more slips of paper he picked up at the site of some old houses Margo was trying to have leveled by the city to protect kids from getting hurt there after school.  Ragle buys the slips of paper from Sammy and goes to the ruins and unearths several magazines he is not familair with and a phone book from an unrecognizable town and time period.  He begins calling the numbers and the operator says to try the call again.  He questions the operator and she hangs up on him.  He flips through the magazines.  One features a story that Laurence Olivier is dead.  “But he’s alive, I know it,” says Margo.  And there is a photo of a beautiful woman none have them have seen before and the magazines speak of her as if she is famous.  “Marilyn Monroe.”  The magazine says she is famous here in America.  But that can’t be.  No one has heard of her.

As readers, and suggested by Dick, is Ragle just mentally ill?  After all, he lives with his sister’s family at age 46.  He doesn’t have a real job but sleuths out word games not by solving puzzles, but like the kids that ace the SATs because they figured out the supposedly random code of the bubble dots.

The next morning neighbor Bill Black gets to work and receives a report.  About the phone calls being made.  He rushes to the office of a man named Lowery.  Could all this be happening?  Is Ragle sane again?  Suddenly we are thrust into a world that could be found in the TV series Lost.  But this experience is for more personal, far more real.  Hints at the world Dick would later write that would become the film The Adjustment Bureau and short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” that M. Night Shyamalan would uncover with The Village, that Bruce Willis encountered in Mercury Rising, that Rod Serling would investigate in “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and countless other Twilight Zone episodes.  That The Truman Show would unapologetically borrow from decades later.  But there is more here.  Dick reveals ideas in his novels in a way that seems relevant and current, even 50 years later.  Time Out of Joint is no different, and is one of my favorites of all his works.

My hints at read-alikes and watch-alikes above will give you a hint at themes to expect in this solid science fiction work that today would be side by side with mainstream bestsellers as the science fiction is only a small part of what happens to these characters.  Looks for themes that Dick pursues in later works, like the meaning of what is real, who we are.  I have a stack of all but one of Dick’s works and plan to make my way through many of them again and others for the first time.  If you have only met Philip K. Dick through the numerous movies based on his works, then there is a giant volume of brilliant novels, and maybe even more brilliant short stories that lies ahead.  Time Out of Joint would be a great entry into Dick’s work.

Led by guest conductor Jack Everly, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra performed to a sold out theater Friday night in the new 1,600 Helzberg Hall of the inaugural season of Kansas City’s Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  The concert featured actor George Takei, known for portraying Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek, greeting the crowd and reciting the opening lines to the original Star Trek theme, as well as Klaatu’s speech from The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The concert featured the musical scores of numerous science fiction movies and TV shows, with on ongoing light show across the top of the giant theater.

Nationally known soprano from numerous opera companies Kristin Plumley sang beautiful renditions of the original Star Trek theme as well as When You Wish Upon a Star and she appeared dressed as both a science officer from the original Star Trek and Princess Leia.

Both Everly and Takei praised the futuristic design and state of the art acoustics at the Kauffman Center, now one of the leading performing arts facilities in the nation, and Takei said he wouldn’t be surprised to see such a cutting-edge facility in the 23rd century predicted from Star Trek’s future.

Highlights of Friday’s concert, which will be performed again Saturday night at a second performance at the Kauffman Center, included selections from John Williams’ scores to Superman, main themes from Star Wars: A New Hope, and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, and the theme from Lost in Space as part of a TV theme song medley.  Other highlights included a stunning trio of excerpts from Bernard Herrmann’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the theme to Somewhere in Time, the themes from Star Trek series VoyagerThe Next Generation, and Deep Space Nine and the selections from the score to Star Trek (2009).   The medley of TV tunes included the theme to the X-Files, the Jetsons, and Twilight Zone, among others.

Maestro Jack Everly has served as Principal Pops Conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Principal Pops Conductor with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, and Pops Conductor of the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. Originally appointed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, he was the Music Director of the American Ballet Theatre for 14 years. On Broadway, he teamed with Marvin Hamlisch to conduct The Goodbye Girl and A Chorus Line and he has conducted concerts for the 2010 National Memorial Day Concert and A Capitol Fourth, two of PBS’ highest-rated programs.

In addition to the original Star Trek series and six Star Trek movies, George Takei’s past work includes guest star roles in episodes of series such as Psych, Perry Mason, I Spy, Twilight Zone, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Miami Vice, and Hawaii Five-O as well as film credits including Ice Palace with Richard Burton and The Green Berets with John Wayne.

Soprano Kristin Plumley’s credits include work with New York City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Virginia Opera and L’Opéra Francais de New York, and she has starred in productions of West Side Story, Carousel, Brigadoon, and Oklahoma! as well as performing at Carnegie Hall.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By Elizabeth C. Bunce

Borg.com readers, you mostly know me as the TV critic here at the ol’ genre stronghold, but you might have noticed that in my spare time, I’m also an author of novels for young adults.  I don’t normally talk about my reading here on borg.com, but I’ve just finished a critically acclaimed new YA novel–and y’all are really the only folks I can talk to sensibly about it.  But I can’t do it without spoilers, so let’s just come clean straight away.  I honestly don’t know what this is going to do to your experience of reading the book, so proceed at your own risk.

Nova Ren Suma’s gripping new YA novel Imaginary Girls doesn’t start off as science fiction or paranormal, but it slowly, ever so slowly (or, at least, as slowly as a book you devour pretty much in one sitting can do) pulls you over the edge, getting creepier and creepier, until *BAM!* Something You Can’t Explain hits you smack in the face.

And things just get weirder from there.

Sound like your kind of book?  Yeah.  So stop reading RIGHT NOW if you don’t want the spoilers.  You’ve been warned.

Imaginary Girls is a story about sisters, and a bond stronger than reason, stronger than logic, stronger than the laws of physics, and, apparently, stronger than death.  Ruby and her younger sister Chloe are all each other has, growing up together in a small upstate New York town on the banks of a giant reservoir.  There are ghosts in that reservoir, ghosts of the whole towns flooded when the dams were built (an idea also explored brilliantly by suspense master Stuart Woods in his 1987 novel Under the Lake). And ghosts of the summer Chloe was fourteen, when a night on the lake with Ruby’s friends ends in tragedy, the death of Chloe’s classmate London.  Chloe is sent to live with her father in Pennsylvania, but Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, make things just like they were before. Literally anything.

What if the little boy (Billy Mumy) from the classic Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life” grew up, still with the whole town wrapped around his twisted little finger?  What if his powers over reality and life and death grew along with him?  What if there was someone–anyone–in his life he really, truly loved? Like… maybe a little sister?

These are the questions Nova Ren Suma explores (even if she wasn’t aware she was doing it) in Imaginary Girls.  She takes a character like little Anthony Fremont, and spins out the probable trajectory of such a being’s adolescence and young adulthood.  Just like in the Twilight Zone episode (and the undeniably sci-fi 1953 original story by Jerome Bixby, in which “Anthony” is not an adorable Billy Mumy, and the cornfield he wishes his enemies into is a much darker, scarier place), there is horror here, and it seeps in gradually, as the reader–and, ultimately, first person narrator Chloe–begins to understand what Ruby is, what she can do.  What she’s been doing, all her life.  What she did, the summer London died.  And every moment since.

But there’s also pathos, in Chloe’s impassioned and increasingly desperate defense of her beloved sister.  And I think this is where Imaginary Girls becomes so interesting.  Suma doesn’t just give us the premise and the horror of the omnipotent manipulator–she gives us the rest of the story, the pain and the consequences, and the wreckage left behind, when everyone is still trying to figure out what’s happened to them.

This isn’t a comfortable book, by any means, but it’s an un-put-down-able page-turner.  And I’m not alone; Imaginary Girls has scooped up starred reviews and awards buzz all fall.  Watch for it to hit shortlists and Year’s Best roundups soon.