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Austin Film Festival: Science Fiction vs. Science Fact
The facts of the matter must serve the characters and story
DAILY Screens  October 25, 2014, by Rod Machen
"...While science fiction has become one of the major tentpoles holding up the Hollywood system, it’s not all lasers and aliens when it comes to making a quality sci-fi flick...."

Writing Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror in Austin
How local authors who work beyond the world we know meet, connect, and launch themselves into the business
Arts Story  July 13, 2017, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Indeed there was, and had been for years. Brown's arrival coincided with the 20th anniversary of ArmadilloCon, the homegrown annual sci-fi convention that was not just a celebration of the more fantastic genres of literature and one hell of a fannish good time, but somewhere aspiring writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror could meet and polish their craft via workshops led by their fellow writers from the local scene..."

Science Fiction Gets the Vapors
On steampunk
Books Story  July 25, 2008, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"..."We're living in science fiction," people like to say...."

Science-Fiction Cinema
Other Worlds Austin film festival debuts; interviews with the directors of Apt 3D and The Well featured
Screens Story  December 4, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...The inaugural Other Worlds Austin film festival, which is dedicated to the presentation of science-fiction filmmaking, takes place Thursday, Dec. 4, through Saturday, Dec..."

Science-Fiction Cinema
Water wars
Screens Story  December 4, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...When the near-future eco-drama The Well screens at the Other Worlds Austin science-fiction film festival, it will be a homecoming of sorts. After all, if it wasn't for Texas-shot All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, writer Jacob Forman and director Tom Hammock would never have made their debut feature..."

Science-Fiction Wine?
Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm keeps winemaking weird
Food Column  July 25, 2008, by Wes Marshall
"...My assignment was to find a science-fiction wine. Wow! This was going to be tough..."

Five Science-Fiction Authors to Scan Darkly
ST 37 captain Scott Telles pulls five notables off the SF bookshelf.
Music Story  July 25, 2008, by S.L. Telles
"...This grand old man of British science fiction and part-time Bastrop resident was the editor of New Worlds, the important late-1960s/early-1970s journal that helped start the careers of J.G. Ballard, Brian Aldiss, Norman Spinrad, Kate Wilhelm, etc...."

Science-Fiction Cinema
Break down the walls
Screens Story  December 4, 2014, by Richard Whittaker


Citizen Science
The enlightenment of Jeanne Liotta
Screens Story  February 17, 2012, by Sarah Smith
"...... It's like this virtual dreamspace: a little science fiction, a little bit sexy just because it feels so limitless."..."

Nisi Shawl Is Crossing the Streams of Fantastical Fiction
The Tiptree-winning author brings her new alt-history to the ATX
DAILY Arts  September 7, 2016, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...That is, you can learn such a thing from Nisi Shawl’s novel Everfair – which the author will be presenting as part of the latest iteration of Fantastical Fictions...."

Five Pet Cats in Modern Fiction
And you won’t believe what happens to the third one
DAILY Arts  February 15, 2018, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Yeah, how’s that for a cat’s name? And of course the man responsible for thus burdening a character’s pet is our old friend Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger – aka novelist Felix C. Forrest – aka the godson of Sun Yat-Sen – aka the Father of Modern Psychological Warfare – aka the under-celebrated science-fiction genius Cordwainer Smith..."

Texas Fiction Science
The State Board of Education does its part to fantasize biology
News Story  July 25, 2008, by Andrea Grimes
"...There's nothing the evil overlords of the fictional future like more than a nice, healthy round of brainwashing. Whether it's George Orwell's totalitarian government of Oceania thwarting rebellious citizens in 1984, the "conditioning" of children in Brave New World, or the large-scale human reprogramming in The Matrix, mind control is all the rage for governments looking to cultivate a herd of submissive subjects..."

Poor Grasp of Science Undermines Credibility
Postmarks  July 30, 2008
"...The statement "biggest explosion of … energy the universe had seen since its birth" is quite likely false, but while you continue to use improper units, it's impossible to refute. If you need a science editor, I'm available. When you garble the science so badly, it makes it easier for the pseudo-science to gain credibility. Just one page earlier, in that same issue, Andrea Grimes talked about Don McLeroy, State Board of Education chair, in an article titled "Texas Fiction Science" [News]..."

The Science Delusion
White takes aim at the bold targets of Richard Dawkins and Jonah Lehrer and their ilk
Books Story  May 17, 2013, by Wayne Alan Brenner


Things That Came: It Might Be Science, But It Sure Ain't Fiction
'Videodrome' and 'They Live,' then and now
Screens Story  July 25, 2008, by Marc Savlov
"...Welcome to the future as predicted by the cinema of sci-fi. What we used to call science fiction, way back in the good old days of Red Scare daze of Manchurian candidate psychenauts and Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion obliteration of Washington D.C., via flying saucer, is mutating rapidly into everyday "fact," and, woe unto us, most of it is darker and more ominous than an Imperial Stormtrooper's eyes..."

The Fiction Writer as Futurecaster
Charles Yu is keeping his eye on the robots
Screens Story  March 4, 2011, by Audra Schroeder
"...With IBM's supercomputer Watson winning Jeopardy a few weeks ago, we humans have a right to be a little concerned. Charles Yu's debut meta novel, How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, imagines a world in which we are the minority, and it's up to a time machine repairman (named Charles Yu) to define life in the space-time continuum..."

Robot Stories
A short film collection billed as "science fiction from the heart," with an emphasis on the heart part.
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Film Review  May 7, 2004, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Starring: Tamlyn Tomita, Wai Ching Ho, Glenn Kubota, James Saito, Cindy Cheung and Greg Pak. Although Greg Pak’s self-distributed film is billed as "science fiction from the heart," the emphasis should be the heart part of that phrase rather than the science fiction..."

Déjà Vu
If the science fiction in Déjà Vu has more to do with fiction than science, it’s not as though this Denzel Washington picture ever pauses long enough for that realization to fully take hold.
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Film Review  November 24, 2006, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Starring: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg, Bruce Greenwood, Elden Henson and Erika Alexander. Pairing on their third project (following Crimson Tide and Man on Fire), director Scott and producer Bruckheimer have created a movie that gives the illusion of being an action/science-fiction movie for the thinking person..."

Page Two: Wonder Stories
The unbound adventures and outrageous duets of a life spent with science fiction
Columns  July 25, 2008, by Louis Black
"...Close childhood friends of mine started reading science fiction shortly after we learned how to read (though it took me an extra 18 months or so to develop that skill), but though I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs and tried to get into the genre, I at first lost interest when it came to its written form. Then, when I was 14 or 15, I broke my arm in three places, ending up in a hospital in Harlem, N.Y., because my doctor attended there..."

Hugo Rising
The nominees for science fiction's best novel of 2013 find a new guard challenging the old
Arts Story  August 30, 2013, by Amy Gentry
"...Through Labor Day, the city is playing host to the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, an international massing of authors, editors, and fans for five days of keynotes, readings of new work, autograph sessions, roundtables, academic panels, contra dances, films, filking (it involves mandolins), tutorials ("Make Your Own Jetpack," "Make Your Own Lightsaber," and one simply titled "Troll and Zombie Snot"), an elaborate masquerade ball, and, of course, endless parties. (See "LoneStarCon, Episode III: The Alamo Strikes Back.")..."

Page Two: Otto Binder Had a Vision
The great science-fiction and comic book writer already had a name for Trump back in the 1950s – Bizarro
Columns  September 15, 2016, by Louis Black
"...These days, witnessing the current ongoing political season, one that gets stranger and stranger, has me thinking back to my early teenage years in New Jersey, where I befriended science-fiction writer and comic book writer Otto Binder. Always a freelancer, he worked for any number of books and characters: During the Golden Age he wrote for Captain America, The Human Torch, Shield, and Dollman and co-invented Kid Eternity, while in the Silver Age he co-created Supergirl and wrote the first Legion of Super-Heroes story, as well as most of the run of Mighty Samson..."

Solaris
"There are no solutions, only choices," intones the mission commander of the ill-fated space station Prometheus in Steven Soderbergh's new science fiction love story Solaris. That advice, along with the...
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Film Review  November 29, 2002, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Starring: Ulrich Tukur, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Natascha Mcelhone and George Clooney. "There are no solutions, only choices," intones the mission commander of the ill-fated space station Prometheus in Steven Soderbergh's new science fiction love story Solaris..."

Stargate
When genres collide. Ridley Scott fused the science fiction movie with film noir in Blade Runner. James Cameron fused the science fiction movie with the war movie in Aliens. In...
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Film Review  November 4, 1994, by Robert Faires
"...When genres collide. Ridley Scott fused the science fiction movie with film noir in Blade Runner..."

Planet 51
In a switcheroo, animated aliens fear the human in their midst.
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Film Review  November 20, 2009, by Marc Savlov
"...Directed by: Jorge Blanco. I'm tempted to think this animated, yawningly kiddie-friendly potboiler is reverse-engineered from the really cool bits of all the classic Cold War science-fiction films of the Fifties, possibly at the behest of some clandestine PsyOps cabal working out of Area 51..."

Skyline
In this effects-heavy film, extraterrestrials invade Los Angeles.

Film Review  November 19, 2010, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...The advice might also prove wise for the characters in Skyline, an effects-heavy thriller about an alien invasion of Los Angeles. I’d use the term "science fiction" to describe Skyline but the movie decidedly lacks both science and fiction..."

District 9
District 9 is a wrenching, riveting, occasionally violent, often heartbreaking, socially conscious science fiction film, and, best of all, a love story.
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Film Review  August 14, 2009, by Marc Savlov
"...Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Vanessa Haywood and Eugene Khumbayiwa. District 9 is a wrenching, riveting, occasionally violent, often heartbreaking, and, above all, socially conscious science-fiction film featuring seamlessly integrated CGI effects alongside flat-out perfect performances from its flesh-and-blood actors, and, best of all, it's a love story..."

Wax, Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees
Harder to describe than it is to understand, this new cult favorite combines elements of science fiction, cyberpunk aesthetics, post-industrial moral metaphors, Burroughsian cut-ups technique and post-modern narrative repetition to...
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Film Review  July 16, 1993, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Starring: David Blair. Harder to describe than it is to understand, this new cult favorite combines elements of science fiction, cyberpunk aesthetics, post-industrial moral metaphors, Burroughsian cut-ups technique and post-modern narrative repetition to create a computer-manipulated meditation on war and peace..."

Howard Waldrop, Upright & Writing
Five decades into his career, the brilliant science fiction writer still isn’t taking any shortcuts
Arts Story  October 5, 2017, by Elizabeth Banicki
"..."I'm using that in The Moone World [one of Waldrop's tales in progress] because they take sauerkraut to the moon with them to fight scurvy." I'd been soaking in Waldrop's work for a few weeks. I'd ordered his novels Them Bones and The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 (a collaboration with fellow science-fiction writer Jake Saunders), which can be found mostly in obscure bookshops in the Northwest..."

A.X.L
A boy and his electronic dog
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Film Review  August 24, 2018, by Matthew Monagle
"...Every time someone new interacts with the robot, their faces swims in and out of focus from a cloud of human-shaped pixels. It’s a design decision every science-fiction filmmaker should look to borrow in their project...."

Another Earth
Shaky science fiction shacks up with a corny redemption tale in this Sundance Film Festival double award-winner.
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Film Review  August 5, 2011, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother and Kumar Pallana. Shaky science fiction shacks up with a corny redemption tale in this Sundance Film Festival double award-winner..."

A Scanner Darkly
As the title implies, there’s a certain opacity to A Scanner Darkly's cautionary drug tale, but at times Richard Linklater's film can be as naked as the lunch on the end of your fork.
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Film Review  July 7, 2006, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...It’s back to the future for Richard Linklater in his animated film version of Philip K. Dick’s 1977 acclaimed novel, A Scanner Darkly, a near-30-year-old work of prescient science fiction, whose film setting is seven years in the future..."

The Last Mimzy
Solid performances elevate this mild but hardly magical children's sci-fi story.
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Film Review  March 23, 2007, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...After Noah builds a generator and Emma starts levitating, homeland security comes crashing through their front door to whisk the family off to their special research facility. (However, in an unrealistic touch, these goons disappear just as quickly once Mimzy is sent back on her way and don’t show even the slightest interest in studying these “special abilities” kids, à la The Fury or X-Men.) The special effects are extremely tame when compared with state-of-the-art visual voodoo and are likely to disappoint the science-fiction aficionados..."

The Q&A Hole: What Got You Hooked On the Weird Stuff?
Waiting for the manlike creature with the glowing eyes
DAILY Arts  July 13, 2017, by Wayne Alan Brenner
"...Compare the joy of reading to a sort of addiction and you can find a gateway drug in there somewhere. (In the case of science fiction, maybe a person’s gateway was even Frederik Pohl’s excellent 1977 novel Gateway.) And since we always like to know where the good stuff is, we invoked our ongoing series to ask this recent gathering of SFF writers:..."

Ernie Cline Gets His Game on With Armada
Novelist Ernie Cline's Eighties arcade love fuels his new sci-fi blockbuster, Armada
Arts Story  July 30, 2015, by Michael Berry
"...Austin-based author Ernest Cline hit the literary jackpot on his first attempt at writing a science fiction novel. Now he's back to play again, hoping to achieve another Top Score with a tale of alien invasion...."

Nebula Over Austin
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America honors del Toro, Chabon, Moorcock in Austin
DAILY Screens  April 29, 2008, by Richard Whittaker
"...The ballroom at the Omni Downtown is a small room to contain a lot of genre-defining authors, but this weekend the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America held their annual Nebula Awards there. From a cinematic view, the big win was Guillermo del Toro for his script for Pan's Labyrinth..."

Red Planet
If names like Blish, Simak, and Asimov mean more to you in a science fiction context than that of Keanu Reeves, this unabashedly retro, hard sci-fi adventure may be just...
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Film Review  November 17, 2000, by Russell Smith
"...Starring: Simon Baker, Benjamin Bratt, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, Carrie-Anne Moss and Val Kilmer. If names like Blish, Simak, and Asimov mean more to you in a science fiction context than that of Keanu Reeves, this unabashedly retro, hard sci-fi adventure may be just your speed..."

Gattaca
A striking debut from British director Niccol, Gattaca posits a not-too-distant future in which, thanks to the wonders of modern science, a person's genetic makeup is determined before birth. No...
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Film Review  October 24, 1997, by Marc Savlov
"...He's the damaged proof that the system does not work, and as such he's Vincent's only hope, and only real friend. For all its genre-hopping (science fiction, mystery, love story, socio-political exploration), Gattaca never gets away from itself; it's firmly rooted in Hawke's masterful humanity, making this less a sci-fi epic than a simple (and simply wonderful) lesson in humanity and the direction in which one hopes it's not heading...."

Into The Black Hole at Other Worlds Austin
Director Gary Nelson on Disney's sci-fi epic, returning this weekend
DAILY Screens  December 7, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...When Disney's groundbreaking science fiction oddity The Black Hole explodes back on the big screen at Other Worlds Austin this weekend, director Gary Nelson will be easy to spot. "I'll be the one with the walker," he said...."

What the Filk?
Sci-fi and folk combine for one weird subgenre
DAILY Music  July 25, 2008, by Doug Freeman
"...It’s science fiction week here at the Chronicle, which means, musically, we’ve digested enough Theremin, Moog, and Bowie to last us the rest of the year. You expect to find a decent dose of sci-fi musing in electronica, prog, and, odd as it may seem at first listen, hip-hop, but country and folk music are surely planted in a bit more solid ground..."

Kin
Gritty sci-fi road trip has teen appeal
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Film Review  August 31, 2018, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...This mash-up of family drama and science fiction is a pleasant but unconvincing adventure with strong adolescent appeal and music by Mogwai. Kin presents the story of an adopted child who finds a powerful ray gun in an abandoned factory and then goes on the lam with his scoundrel brother, who is trying to escape even worse scoundrels who want to collect the money he owes them..."

Mrs. Hyde
Isabelle Huppert glows (literally) in this SF-comedy makeover of the psycho-horror classic.
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Film Review  May 25, 2018, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Hyde a discourse on the French pedagogical system, one that sharply divides academic pursuits from vocational. The film’s science-fiction elements fail to engage our eyes or minds..."

Downsizing
Alexander Payne creates a small word with big ambitions
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Film Review  December 22, 2017, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Dense with captivating ideas and visual feats, Downsizing is a packed offering whose oversized ambitions may outstrip its accomplishments. Story elements blend science fiction, comedy, and drama to create tones and a trajectory that wobble in different directions but also keep viewers from easily predicting in what direction the narrative will turn next..."

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Luc Besson's latest is a kaleidoscopic mess
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Film Review  July 21, 2017, by Steve Davis
"...It takes you to some vivid places in the imagination of Luc Besson, the polarizing filmmaker whose highly stylized, genre-mashing, and sometimes hyperviolent action flicks rarely elicit a simple shoulder shrug, or the equivalent of a mere “meh.” Whether you love him (Léon: The Professional, Lucy) or hate him (The Messenger, The Family), you can’t deny this: Besson never does anything half-assed. Here, he reaches back to childhood memories of reading the popular French comic book series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, to conjure up a tasty piece of eye candy that most resembles, in both style and content, his flamboyant 1997 science-fiction adventure The Fifth Element, a guilty pleasure that improves with repdeated viewings despite your inability to make heads or tails of its chaotic storyline, one featuring a gibberish-speaking humanoid with a shock of DayGlo orange hair, a mesmerizing opera diva outfitted in blue latex, and an outrageous radio personality dressed in Jean-Paul Gaultier from head to toe..."

Man Down
A soldier struggles with PTSD
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Film Review  December 2, 2016, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Several storylines from his life unfold in a disjointed fashion, which serve the purpose of keeping us guessing what exactly is going on until the film’s trick ending is revealed. The initial storyline plays like a science-fiction film in which Gabriel Drummer (LaBeouf) and his best pal Devin Roberts (Courtney), in rough military garb, traverse a desolate and bombed-out urban landscape unsuccessfully searching for Gabriel’s son Johnathan (Shotwell) and wife Natalie (Mara)..."

Midnight Special
Is a boy with special gifts a savior or a weapon – or neither?
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Film Review  March 18, 2016, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Writer/director Jeff Nichols launches onto the national stage with Midnight Special, his fourth film, which is a studio production. Although it shares much in common with Nichols’ previous three independently made films (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud), Midnight Special finds the Austin-based filmmaker working here in the familiar American genres of chase films and thrillers, and maybe even science fiction..."

Cracking the Nightmare Code
Director Mark Netter on his new techno-horror
DAILY Screens  September 16, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...The great science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." For Mark Netter, director of new techno-terror Nightmare Code, we're in an age of technological sorcery..."

Self/less
The film starts off as promising sci-fi, but turns into a disappointing shoot-’em-up
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Film Review  July 10, 2015, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Yet just as you begin settling into these science-fiction parameters and start pondering the wisdom of humanity’s vain quest for immortality, Self/less switches gears, much to its detriment, and becomes a frenzied chase thriller and shoot-‘em-up. Shedding has endowed the dying Damian with the buff body of Ryan Reynolds, and though he no longer speaks with an extreme New York accent or suffers from a peanut allergy, Young Damian still has all of Old Damian’s baggage (including an unresolved relationship with his daughter, who now believes him to be dead)...."

Gazing Back at Other Worlds Austin
Time Lapse dominates Cthulhie awards, plus festival highlights
DAILY Screens  December 13, 2014, by Richard Whittaker
"...Last weekend's Other Worlds Austin has returned to its home planet, but the inaugural year of the city's first dedicated science fiction film festival leaves the winners of its awards, the Cthulhies, behind on Earth...."

The Zero Theorem
This science-fiction romp from director Terry Gilliam explores a demented and surreal technological future.
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Film Review  September 19, 2014, by Louis Black
"...More cinematic than narratively focused, more intuitive than coherent, this science-fiction romp from director Terry Gilliam explores a demented and surreal technological future. In keeping with his endless attempt to film Don Quixote, Gilliam’s film is about a lone, slightly mad hero's picaresque journey through a distorted reality that is inhabited by the abstract, the exaggerated, and the grotesque..."

I Origins
The director of 2011's Another Earth is back with a another appealing yet fuzzy story about rift between empiricism and spiritualism.
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Film Review  July 25, 2014, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...More polished than his debut feature Another Earth, Cahill and his brand of humanist science fiction are destined to appeal most to like-minded souls. Empiricists only need apply if they have a thing for lovely gamines who speak in foreign-accented English (and who doesn’t?), as well as a tolerance for blatantly metaphorical film titles...."

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