Science Fiction

Doctor Who Series 11: The 13th Doctor’s Theme and The Sound of “New Who”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/12/2018 - 2:05am in

As the latest series of Doctor Who draws to a close – it’s not over yet, we still the New Year’s Special to cap it off – the BBC has released the full theme for the 13th Doctor, composed by new series composer Segun Akinola.

doctorwho series 11 themeBBC

When the show was brought back in 2005, Russell T. Davies and producer Julie Gardner wanted to signal that it wasn’t the cheap-looking show of the 1970’s, with its cardboard sets, creature make-up that looked like it cost 50p. One way to do that was to have a full-on orchestral score instead of the synthesizer music cues. Murray Gold became the composer for the show over its next ten series, creating not just music cues but also entire orchestral suites and symphonies the way composers like John Williams and Howard Shore composed for big Hollywood epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Gold’s music often did the emotional heavy-lifting for the show, linking moments and motifs together as part of the story.

divider-1.jpg

The BBC also used the music of Doctor Who as a “gateway drug” to interest kids and young people in Classical Musical by having the soundtrack performed at the Proms every year. The music of Doctor Who has become as crucial a character on the show as the Doctor and her companions. It has become a tradition on the show for each new Doctor to have their own theme tune, one that sums up the many layers and colours of the Doctor’s personality. It’s fascinating to listen to them on their own.

The 9th Doctor’s Theme

The first new Doctor of the show’s new era might be the saddest. Christopher Eccleston was many people’s introduction to the Doctor and his theme is the most low-key, mournful, like a requiem. He dresses in black to keep people at arm’s length. He looks like an angry social worker who has no time for nonsense when you go see him at his office. He’s lost his world and his people, and he has survivor’s guilt. His theme is a lament for everything he lost and wishes he could get back.

The 10th Doctor’s Theme

The 10th Doctor, played by David Tennent, is more extravagant than the 9th. Covering up his angst with an exuberance and a smart-alecky Mockney hipster persona. His theme tune is an evolution of the 9th Doctor’s, the choral lament is elaborated upon and layer with more orchestration to show his more outsized personality but with the darkness and mournfulness still lurking underneath.

“I am the Doctor” – the 11th Doctor’s Theme

Matt Smith’s Doctor is a geeky oddball given to silly diversions and flights of fancy. Gold created a brash, bombastic, grandiose rollercoaster of a theme to take us through the peaks and troughs of this Doctor’s personality, a madman with a box, an old man in a young man’s body. This theme sums up the crazy, over-the-top whimsy and eccentric bombast of the 11th Doctor. You can almost imagine this is the theme playing in his head whenever he does anything. For him, everything must be EPIC because he’s trying to be cool.

“A Good Man?” – the 12th Doctor’s Theme

The 12th Doctor’s theme might be the most complex and layered suite Gold ever composed for the show. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is a man of doubts and an endless pit of history and regrets, quizzical, alien, increasingly tumultuous like an emotional rollercoaster. Unlike the declarative nature of the 11th Doctor, this Doctor questions himself, asking if he is a good man, and his arc through Capaldi’s three series was about the Doctor deciding on the need to be a good man. His theme takes us through his arc of initial questioning, mystery, then increasing rage – and finally, conviction.

“Thirteen” – The 13th Doctor’s Theme

Segun Akinola took over from Gold as the show’s composer this season. His approach is less classical than Gold’s, more modern, low-key and subtle. Instead of the operatic bombast of Gold’s compositions, Akinola’s score for the show relies more on strings and electric keyboard to slip into the mood of the story. Gone is the sadness and melancholy of the past Doctor’s themes and a warmer, more intimate feel before it opens up to a sense of vastness and endless promise, the dawning of something new, just like the personality of this new Doctor herself.

The post Doctor Who Series 11: The 13th Doctor’s Theme and The Sound of “New Who” appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

This Picnic.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:08am in

Doctor Who’s Lucky Number Thirteen: U.S. Ratings Rise 20% Over Previous Series

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/12/2018 - 2:05am in

The only thing in Doctor Who news more controversial than the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor are opinions on the quality of the show’s Series 11. While the press has been busy writing reviews and opinion pieces, the fans have let their viewing habits do the talking – and the news is really positive for BBC America and Whittaker’s Doctor.

doctorwho usa ratings whittakerBBC

Based on figures reported on by VultureDoctor Who Series 11 averaged 1.6 million U.S viewers per episode over the first eight episodes of this season (including recorded and on-demand replays), a 20% increase over the same period for Series 10 with Peter Capaldi‘s Twelfth Doctor. These excellent U.S ratings rank Whittaker’s Doctor ahead of previous Doctors Matt Smith, David Tennant, and Christopher Eccleston‘s debut seasons.

Part of this ratings rise can be attributed to BBC America’s decision to move Doctor Who from Saturday to Sunday nights, as the overnight ratings skyrocketed to an almost fifty percent increse while same-day viewing numbers have doubled for millennial women. The rise in female viewers is also likely a result of both the draw of the first female Doctor and women-centric historical stories such as ‘Rosa’ and ‘The Witchfinders.’ Despite a fall in viewers after the first episode (that initial curiosity people have to see what all the fuss was about), ratings have remained stable over the course of the season: indicating that not only is Doctor Who bringing in more viewers, it’s also keeping them once it has them.

All of this is great news for BBC America and BBC Studios, who officially confirmed over the weekend that Whittaker was on board for Series 12. That same weekend, there came the “fine print”: BBC also officially announced that the new series of Doctor Who episodes won’t get to fans until 2020 (though Bleeding Cool’s own Rich Johnston had the scoop prior).

The question now is: will these new viewers still be interested after a year of no new Who? Without a TARDIS, only time will tell…

The post Doctor Who’s Lucky Number Thirteen: U.S. Ratings Rise 20% Over Previous Series appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

The Operation of Worker-Owned Companies in Martian SF

A week or so ago I put up a few passages from Kim Stanley Robinson’s Blue Mars (London: HarperCollins 1996), a science fiction book about the colonization and terraformation of the Red Planet. In Robinson’s book, on breaking away from terrestrial domination the Martians establish a constitution which makes all the companies not owned by the global Martian state or its constituent cities worker-owned cooperatives, partly modelled on the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain. On page 301 Robinson describes how Nadia, the new Martian president in the capital, Sheffield, works to transform the planet’s industries, including those formerly owned by terrestrial metanats – vast multinationals that now dominate the industries of whole countries – into the new system. Robinson writes

Nadia, however, never made it to this conference. She got caught up by affairs in Sheffield instead, mostly instituting the new economic system, which she thought important enough to keep her there. The legislature was passing the law of eco-economics, fleshing out the bones drawn up in the constitution. They directed co-ops that had existed before the revolution to help the newly independent metanat local subsidiaries to transform themselves into similar co-operative organisations. This process, called horizontalization, had very wide support, especially from the young natives, and so it was proceeding fairly smoothly. Every Martian business now had to be owned by its employees only. No co-op could exceed one thousand people; larger enterprises had to be made of co-op associations, working together. For their internal structures most of the firms chose variants of the Bogdanovist models, which themselves were based on the co-operative Basque community of Mondragon, Spain. In these firms all employees were co-owners, and they bought into their positions by paying the equivalent of about a year’s wages to the firms equity fund. This became the starter of their share in the firm, which grew every year they stayed, until it was given back to them as pension or departure payment. Councils elected from the work-force hired management, usually from outside, and this management then had the power to make executive decisions, but was subject to a yearly review by the councils. Credit and capital were obtained from central co-operative banks, or the global government’s start-up fund, or helper organisations such as Praxis and the Swiss. On the next level up, co-ops in the same industries or services wer associating for larger projects, and also sending representatives to industry guilds, which established professional practice boards, arbitration and mediation centres, and trade associations.

I can’t say I’m happy about the idea of worker managers buying their share of management with the equivalent of a year’s pay. This seems far too easy for someone to exploit to me. And I’m also not sure how practical it would be to turn all companies into co-operatives. However, we do need industrial democracy, if only to overturn the massive exploitation of working people that has gone on under Thatcherism. Under the current Thatcherite orthodoxy, wages are frozen, jobs insecure and the welfare system undermined and destroyed. A quarter of a million people have been forced to use foodbanks to save themselves from starvation, and 330,000-odd people are homeless. And the number of people dying on our streets, and the elderly in their homes due to Tory cuts in the cold weather payments, has shot up. And this has all been to give the rich tax cuts and provide employers with a cheap, cowed workforce.

Enough’s enough. We need a proper government with a proper vision that treats working people decently, with proper wages and rights at work, invigorates trade unions, restores a strong and health welfare state, builds properly affordable homes and reverses the privatization of the NHS. Only Corbyn’s Labour promises all that. And part of this promise is to put workers on the boards of all firms with over a certain number of employees.

Corbyn is the person we need to have in No.10. Not Tweezer and her gang of crooks and profiteers. Get them out, and Labour in.

Doctor Who Series 11: A Darker Season Than You First Thought

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 6:15am in

Doctor Who Series 11 feels different from the previous seasons because it feels more like a social drama, there’s less continuity-heavy lore, the stories aren’t high in the “cosmic universe-in-danger sense” and sometimes feels slighter than before.

doctorwho series11 darker momentsBBC

But there are moments from this season that are loads darker than they first appear – here’s a look at some moments you might have missed:

‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ – How did so many people miss that the Doctor straight-up killed Tzim Sha, or “Tim Shaw”? I keep seeing people write that he got off easy because he teleported back to his home planet. Five DNA bombs detonated inside his body. Do people not understand that his DNA was destroyed in his body and all his organs basically underway catastrophic failure? The “Tim Shaw” that ends up back on his home planet is either a very messy corpse or a puddle of goo.

‘The Ghost Monument’ – The Doctor and her friends help Angstrom and Ipso survive and win the race but still get abandoned. This is the first sign the universe in series 11 is harsher and more unfair and the Doctor is less in control than before. It’s a universe of class divide and the strong preying on the weak, even more than previous seasons. Steven Moffat liked to write the Doctor as a god-like hero who has thought of everything. This Doctor is at the universe’s mercy as everyone else.

‘Rosa’ – Some viewers keep thinking Krasko would come back as a villain again in a future episode. I have my doubts. He’s not interesting enough to come back. He was just there as a plot device to give the gang a reason to interact with Rosa Parks and make sure she gets on the bus. He has no personality beyond ‘racist jerk’, a representation of the Alt-Right creeps out there who are complaining about this show now.

And it looks like Ryan killed him. Ryan sent him as far back in time as possible without any technology on him. He’s been reliant on his time tech and he has none. He might also have ended up so far back in time that the air isn’t breathable and the land is still lava. He could have died the moment he materialized. I could be totally wrong and he might come back in the finale. We’ll find out soon enough.

‘Arachnids in the UK’ – The Doctor locks the giant spider’s brood in Trump-alike tycoon Robertson’s safe room so they’ll eat up the rations until they run out and starve to death. Robertson shoots the giant mother spider not because he wanted to put it out of its misery – he wanted to put it out of his misery because he hates spiders. What is the more humane way of killing spiders here? To let them slowly starve to death when they run out of food in a room or to shoot a dying spider before it dies a slow death from suffocation?

‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’ – It’s implied that General Eve’s robot partner Ronan was also her lover. After she dies, Ronan and her brother Durkas bond and mourn, and Ronan declares that his term of service is over. For a robot companion, that means termination. Durkas doesn’t ask Ronan to become his robot partner. It’s implied that robot partners are bonded to pilots for life and are expected to be destroyed when their human partners die.

‘Demons of the Punjab’ – Something is underplayed in this story, which is that Yaz’ desire to find out her grandmother’s secret is what causes the creation of her family all along. If Moffat or Russell T. Davies was scripting this episode, they would have hammered that point more. If the Doctor hadn’t taken her back to 1947, her grandmother would have died without ever marrying her second husband or immigrating to Britain, and Yaz’ family would never have come into being. The Doctor becomes a plot device in Yaz and her grandmother’s story here. They closed a loop. They weren’t going to prevent Partition or the massacre of thousands in sectarian violence, but the Doctor and Yaz make sure Yaz’ grandmother’s first husband dies in order for the history of Yaz’ family to happen.

‘Kerblam!’ – Not enough fuss was made that the Kerblam AI murdered an innocent woman. Sure, it did it to try to shock the luddite terrorist into not committing mass murder and failed, but no one really mentioned it again… except at the end when the senior executives announced that the AI had been temporarily suspended pending new policy to bring in more humans to work at Kerblam. What was glossed over was that an AI made a moral calculation to sacrifice one life to try to save millions of lives. I wonder why the writers didn’t have the executives declare that new policy to bring in more humans to the company was because the company AI murdered someone!

‘The Witchhunters’ – The Doctor and her fam saved the planet from woody aliens but did not end the witch trials. King James emerged from his encounter with the Doctor even more convinced of the existence of witchcraft than ever. Witch hunts continued in England for more than another 100 years. That means hundreds more people die after they left.

‘It Takes You Away’ – Several viewers asked why the Solitract didn’t take on the form of a lost loved one from the Doctor’s past to appear before her. It picked a frog because it saw in Graham’s memories that Grace was delighted by the frog pendant he bought her. To the Solitract, the frog is a symbol of love. It chose to appear as a frog to the Doctor as an expression of its love and their new friendship. Jodie Whittaker played the scene as a break-up. The Doctor leaves the Solitract with the memory of their short friendship to sustain it for eternity. A human goes insane from being alone for too long. How do we know an eternity of solitude wouldn’t drive a sentient universe insane and it might implode as an act of self-destruction and suicide? And when it happens, no one will be there to see it. The implications are pretty dark when you stop and think about it, folks.

Too bad I haven’t seen the finale ‘The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos’ yet. I’m curious about what downbeat and pessimistic bits Chris Chibnall puts into the background of the story to cap off his first season as showrunner.

The post Doctor Who Series 11: A Darker Season Than You First Thought appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Doctor Who Series 11, Episode 9 ‘It Takes You Away,’ When The 13th Doctor Found Her Voice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/12/2018 - 3:05am in

Series 11 of Doctor Who finally found its defining moments in the 9th episode ‘It Takes You Away,’ when The Doctor finds herself talking to a sentient universe that’s taken on the form of a talking frog.

BBC

Grief and loss are themes throughout this season, with Graham and Ryan mourning the loss of Grace (revisited and brought to a head in this episode) Yaz’ grandmother mourning the husband who died in the Partition, the man trying to solve his sister’s disappearance from Sheffield, Hanne and her father mourning her mother, the starship pilot’s brother, and android mourning her sacrifice. The monster turns out not to be monstrous after all, which previously happened in ‘Demons of the Punjab’ where the aliens weren’t assassins but mourners out to honour the people through Time and Space who die alone, and now the Solitract, a sentient universe that isn’t luring people to their doom but just wants a friend. It chooses the form of a frog with Grace’s voice to greet the Doctor with because the frog pendant Graham bought Grace was a symbol of love.

We get a whole scene of The Doctor matching minds with a talking frog while promising to be BFFs with it forever. There is no doubt she is being sincere in her love for this new crazy phenomenon in her life that she has to lose almost immediately. This is everything I want to see in Doctor Who. It’s bonkers, sad and funny at the same time.

For a show with a long history – over 50 years’ worth – of bonkers moments, this was in the Top 10. It’s very Douglas Adams in its whimsy and silliness, a combination of the cosmic and the ordinary. That scene carried a whole series’ worth of themes, ideas and emotions in just a few minutes. It was also the moment when the character of the 13th Doctor came into focus at last.

BBC

The Doctor talks the Solitract into letting her go before the reality collapses and kills them both. She doesn’t make a poetic, eloquent speech that Steven Moffat used to write. She has no clever turns of phrases, only direct, emotional, empathetic honesty. She promises the Solitract that she will always be its friend, and the two of them promise to remember each other always. It’s a poignant moment where friends have to say goodbye. For the Doctor, it’s bittersweet. She’s found something so vast and strange and beautiful that she could be happily lost in it forever but has to leave it. Like her previous selves, she has to bear another loss.

I also thought about how the scene was specifically written to the 13th Doctor’s personality. Yes, any other Doctor could enact that script, but I can imagine the previous Doctors handling the Solitract differently. The 9th Doctor  Christopher Eccleston might have agreed to just die with the Solitract in a bout of self-loathing and despair. The 10th Doctor David Tennent might have argued with the Solitract and fought to defeat it. The 11th Doctor Matt Smith might have manipulated and conned the Solitract before pulling off an escape. The 12th Doctor Peter Capaldi might have scolded and shamed the Solitract into letting him go.

The 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker, is unique in her emotional transparency and sincerity.

doctorwho series11 whittaker voiceBBC

I try not to watch Doctor Who with preconceptions or what I think the show should be. I like to look at it from the showrunner’s intentions and whether the execution works for me. We’ve already watched ten seasons of “big, cosmic, universe-threatening events” at every turn during Steven Moffat’s run, so Chris Chibnall‘s approach this season is a welcome change with smaller, more intimate stories that homed in on more relatable situations and people.

‘It Takes You Away’ felt like the episode where all the themes and ideas of the season came together more fully than the other episodes in the season so far. It finally stopped to give the Doctor her moment and let us see her core. She’s more low-key than the previous Doctors and doesn’t lord it over the room like they did. She doesn’t present herself as a god-like authoritarian like the previous ones did. She downplays how powerful and dangerous she really can be while the previous ones don’t hesitate to become dark and scary at the drop of a hat. She’s more sensitive to people’s feelings and reassures them whenever she can, which the previous Doctors might not bother doing.

It’s easy for me to see why they chose Jodie Whittaker. When her costume was unveiled, I thought she looked like that nice lady who teaches kindergarten and buys her organic muesli from the local co-op. She’s someone that children and little girls fall in love with and trust – and that’s all on purpose.

Series 11 is not what the show was like in the past ten seasons. It’s practically a new show with a new showrunner, a new cast, a new composer, a new tone that plays on and subverts our expectations of the conventions of the show from the past seasons. Change can be scary for some people – while some of us just go along with it to see where it takes us.

The post Doctor Who Series 11, Episode 9 ‘It Takes You Away,’ When The 13th Doctor Found Her Voice appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Jon Pertwee ‘Dr. Who’ Strip on the Bronze Age of Blogs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/12/2018 - 9:59pm in

The Bronze Age of Blogs is a website dedicated to comics of the 1970s, though sometimes this is stretched to include strips from the late ’60s and ’80s. One of the strips it’s covered recently is a ‘Dr. Who’ strip from the comic Countdown/TV Action, which apparently ran from 1971 to 1973. The strip features the 3rd Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee, and was written and drawn by Barry Haylock. According to the Pete Doree, the site’s author, the comic carried work by a number of great British comics artists, like Frank Bellamy, one of the artists on The Eagle’s Dan Dare, and Ron Embleton, whose name I recognize from 2000 AD.

I can vaguely remember TV 21 from my early childhood, including the Dr. Who strip. I can remember reading one such story, about an alien influence beaming in through a radio telescope and the TARDIS dematerializing just before we had a Hallowe’en party.

The Bronze Age of Blogs reproduces stories from the comics discussed, and so this post duly has one of the Doctor’s from the comic. To enlarge the images so that you can see them more clearly, and read the speech bubbles, simply click on them.

http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2018/11/gerry-haylocks-dr-who.html

Video of Ion-Driven Plane in Flight

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 28/11/2018 - 5:09am in

A few days ago I put up a piece about an article in the I, which reported that scientists at MIT had successfully built and flown a plane propelled by ions. These are charged particles. The plane had a series of electrically charged wires running in front and behind it. These turned the air running between them into a stream of charged particles, which were directed around the plane to propel it through the air.

I found this video of it in flight from the Sci-News channel on YouTube. There’s a brief explanation of the principle behind it, which describes the ionized air which gives the plane thrust as an ionic wind. It then shows the plane moving a short distance without the power switched on. This is then followed by the plane flying a far greater distance using the ionic power system. The video calls it the first solid-state propulsion system, and then describes it as ‘flight without propulsion’. Which sounds like the line about travelling through folding space in Dune: ‘Travelling without motion’. The explanatory blurb for the video states that the system could be used to create cleaner, quieter planes.

It’s a fascinating form of aircraft propulsion, and as I blogged about it the other day, it’s similar to the nuclear thrust engines used on some spacecraft. These use a grid of electrically charged filaments to direct a flow of ions away from the craft to generate thrust, although in this case the charged particles come from a nuclear reactor.

However, I am slightly alarmed by the possibility that this will be used to create silent drones, as mentioned in the I article and by one of the commenters on this video on YouTube. The last thing this planet needs is more refined killing machines, especially drones which are being used to kill civilians, including children – dubbed ‘fun-sized terrorists’ by the American drone pilots. And there is a real dehumanizing effect in using drones in combat. The drone operator is remote, miles away from the carnage they’re inflicting, and so the killing can seem unreal. As one angry trainer remarked when he hauled one operator from the controls for going way to far, ‘This isn’t a computer game’.

Hopefully this technology will be used to produce cleaner, greener, more efficient aircraft, rather than yet more engines of destruction.

Zarjaz! Rebellion to Open Studio for 2000AD Films

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 5:45am in

Here’s a piece of good news for the Squaxx dek Thargo, the Friends of Tharg, editor of the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic. According to today’s I, 26th November 2018, Rebellion, the comic’s current owners, have bought a film studio and plan to make movies based on 2000AD characters. The article, on page 2, says

A disused printing factory in Oxfordshire is to be converted into a major film studio. The site in Didcot has been purchased by Judge Dredd publisher Rebellion to film adaptations from its 2000 AD comic strips. The media company based in Oxford hopes to create 500 jobs and attract outside contractors.

Judge Dredd, the toughest lawman of the dystopian nightmare of Megacity 1, has been filmed twice, once as Judge Dredd in the 1990s, starring Sylvester Stallone as Dredd, and then six years ago in 2012, as Dredd, with Karl Urban in the starring role. The Stallone version was a flop and widely criticized. The Dredd film was acclaimed by fans and critics, but still didn’t do very well. Two possible reasons are that Dredd is very much a British take on the weird absurdities of American culture, and so doesn’t appeal very much to an American audience. The other problem is that Dredd is very much an ambiguous hero. He’s very much a comment on Fascism, and was initially suggested by co-creator Pat Mills as a satire of American Fascistic policing. The strip has a very strong satirical element, but nevertheless it means that the reader is expected to identify at least partly with a Fascist, though recognizing just how dreadful Megacity 1 and its justice system is. It nevertheless requires some intellectual tight rope walking, though it’s one that Dredd fans have shown themselves more than capable of doing. Except some of the really hardcore fans, who see Dredd as a role model. In interviews Mills has wondered where these people live. Did they have their own weird chapterhouse somewhere?

Other 2000AD strips that looked like they were going to make the transition from the printed page to the screen, albeit the small one of television, were Strontium Dog and Dan Dare. Dare, of course, was the Pilot of Future, created by Marcus Morris for the Eagle, and superbly drawn by Franks Hampson and Bellamy. He was revived for 2000 AD when it was launched in the 1970s, where he was intended to be the lead strip before losing this to Dredd. The strip was then revived again for the Eagle, when this was relaunched in the 1980s. As I remember, Edward Norton was to star as Dare.

Strontium Dog came from 2000 AD’s companion SF comic, StarLord, and was the tale of Johnny Alpha, a mutant bounty hunter, his norm partner, the Viking Wulf, and the Gronk, a cowardly alien that suffered from a lisp and a serious heart condition, but who could eat metal. It was set in a future, where the Earth had been devastated by a nuclear war. Mutants were a barely tolerated minority, forced to live in ghettos after rising in rebellion against an extermination campaign against them by Alpha’s bigoted father, Nelson Bunker Kreelman. Alpha and his fellow muties worked as bounty hunters, the only job they could legally do, hunting down the galaxy’s crims and villains.

Back in the 1990s the comic’s then publishers tried to negotiate a series of deals with Hollywood for the translation on their heroes on to the big screen. These were largely unsuccessful, and intensely controversial. In one deal, the rights for one character was sold for only a pound, over the heads of the creators. They weren’t consulted, and naturally felt very angry and bitter about the deal.

This time, it all looks a lot more optimistic. I’d like to see more 2000 AD characters come to life, on either the big screen or TV. Apart from Dredd, it’d good to see Strontium Dog and Dare be realized for screen at last. Other strips I think should be adapted are Slaine, the ABC Warriors and The Ballad of Halo Jones. Slaine, a Celtic warrior strip set in the period before rising sea levels separated Britain, Ireland and Europe, and based on Celtic myths, legends and folklore, is very much set in Britain and Ireland. It could therefore be filmed using some of the megalithic remains, hillforts and ancient barrows as locations, in both the UK and Eire. The ABC Warriors, robotic soldiers fighting injustice, as well as the Volgan Republic, on Earth and Mars, would possibly be a little more difficult to make. It would require both CGI and robotics engineers to create the Warriors. But nevertheless, it could be done. There was a very good recreation of an ABC Warrior in the 1990s Judge Dredd movie, although this didn’t do much more than run amok killing the judges. It was a genuine machine, however, rather than either a man in a costume or animation, either with a model or by computer graphics. And the 1980s SF movie Hardware, which ripped off the ‘Shock!’ tale from 2000AD, showed that it was possible to create a very convincing robot character on a low budget.

The Ballad of Halo Jones might be more problematic, but for different reasons. The strip told the story of a young woman, who managed to escape the floating slum of an ocean colony to go to New York. She then signed on as a waitress aboard a space liner, before joining the army to fight in a galactic war. It was one of the comic’s favourite strips in the 1980s, and for some of its male readers it was their first exposure to something with a feminist message. According to Neil Gaiman, the strip’s creator, Alan Moore, had Jones’ whole life plotted out, but the story ended with Jones’ killing of the Terran leader, General Cannibal, on the high-gravity planet Moab. There was a dispute over the ownership of the strip and pay between Moore and IPC. Moore felt he was treated badly by the comics company, and left for DC, never to return to 2000 AD’s pages. Halo Jones was turned into a stage play by one of the northern theatres, and I don’t doubt that even after a space of thirty years after she first appeared, Jones would still be very popular. But for it to be properly adapted for film or television, it would have to be done involving the character’s creators, Moore and Ian Gibson. Just as the cinematic treatment of the other characters should involve their creators. And this might be difficult, given that Moore understandably feels cheated of the ownership of his characters after the film treatments of Watchmen and V For Vendetta.

I hope that there will be no problems getting the other 2000 AD creators on board, and that we can soon look forward to some of the comics many great strips finally getting on to the big screen.

Splundig vur thrig, as the Mighty One would say.

Scientists Invent Ion-Driven ‘Star Trek’ Plane

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 23/11/2018 - 11:25pm in

This is a fascinating piece from yesterday’s I newspaper, for the 22nd November 2018. It reports that Dr. Steven Barrett and his team at MIT have built an airplane that flies through channeling air underneath its wings using electrically charged wires hung below them.

The article, by John von Radowitz, on page 13, reads

A revolutionary electronic aircraft propulsion system inspired by Star Trek has been tested on a working model for the first time.

The five-metre wingspan glider-like plane has no propellers, turbines or any other moving parts, and is completely silent.

Instead, an “ionic wind” of colliding electrically charged air molecules provides the thrust needed to make it fly.

In the tests, the battery-powered unmanned aircraft, that weighs just five pounds, managed sustained flights of 60m at an average height of just 0.47m.

But its inventors believe that, like the early experiments of the Wright brothers more than 100 years ago, such small beginnings will eventually transform the face of aviation.

In the near future, ion wind propulsion could be employed to power quiet drones, the team predicts.

Further down the line, the technology could be paired with more conventional propulsion systems to produce highly fuel-efficient hybrid passenger planes.

Lead researcher Dr. Steven Barret, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, said: “This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system.

“This has potentially opened new and unexplored possibilities for aircraft which are quieter, mechanically simpler, and do not emit combustion emissions.”

He revealed that he was partly inspi9red by the TV sci-fi series Star Trek. He was especially impressed by the show’s futuristic shuttle crafts that skimmed through the air producing hardly any noise or exhaust. “This made me think, planes shouldn’t have propellers and turbines,” said Dr. Barrett.
“They should be more like the shuttles in
Star Trek that have just a blue glow and silently glide.

The test aircraft, described in the journal Nature, carries an array of thin wires strung beneath the front end of its wings. A high-voltage current passed through the wires strips negatively charged electrons from surrounding air molecules.

This produces a cloud of positively charged ionized air molecules that are attracted to another set of negatively charged wires at the back of the plane.

As they flow towards the negative charge, the ions collide millions of times with other air molecules, creating the thrust that pushes the aircraft forward.

The article also said that

Test flights were made across the gymnasium at MIT’s duPont Athletic Centre, the largest indoor space the scientists could find.

The article also carried this diagram of the aircraft and its engine.

The illustration is entitled ‘How It Works’, and shows picture of the plane, with an arrow saying ‘Battery in fuselage’. There’s also a diagram of the electrically charged particles and the wires connected to the battery that the plane uses instead of a conventional engine.

The illustration’s notes read

Thin wires are strung under the front of the wing and thicker wires under the rear. When connected to a high voltage battery they act as electrodes. The thin positive electrode takes negatively charged electrons from air molecules, creating positive ions. The ions are attracted to the negative electrode at the rear and, as they flow towards it, they collide with neutral air molecules, creating thrust.

The plane reminds of me of the atmospheric aircraft in one of Alistair Reynold’s SF novels, Revelation Space, which fly through heating up the air below them. The propulsion system’s also related to the nuclear electric propulsion used, or proposed, for some spacecraft. This also uses an electrically charged grating to channel and increase the thrust of charged particles generated by a nuclear reactor. As I understand it, the amount of thrust generated by this type of rocket engine is small, but because it’s constant it can eventually build up over time so that the craft is flying at quite considerable speed.

An ion-driven plane is a fascinating concept, though it won’t be powering passenger craft just yet. But you wonder how many UFO sightings will be generated by the experimental and prototype craft which will be designed and built after this.

Pages