Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"I've got a blowout, damper three!"

"Get your pitch to zero!"

"Pitch is out. I can't hold altitude."

"Correction, alpha hold is off. Trim selectors -- emergency!"

"Flight Com! I can’t hold it! She’s breaking up, she’s break --"
One of the reasons I'm thrilled to have my novel FlashForward adapted for television on ABC is that one of my favorite shows when I was a teenager -- The Six Million Dollar Man -- was on ABC, and it, too, was adapted from a novel: Cyborg by Martin Caidin.

But I realized that in all my collection of science-fiction toys and memorabilia, I didn't have anything to commemorate my fondess for the adventures of astronaut Steve Austin.

And so I bought the wooden model pictured above. It's a NASA/Northrop HL-10 lifting body. In the episode "The Deadly Replay," the craft that Austin crashed in, costing him an arm, both legs, and an eye, was identified as the HL-10, and the real HL-10 was used in the pilot and that episode (although the actual tumbling crash shown in the opening credits is a different lifting body, the M2-F2; the HL-10 is only seen in the opening credits in the shot of it from above as it drops from a B-52's wing accompanied by the words "We have separation").

I bought this from Builderscience on eBay; his asking price was US$68.
Robert J. Sawyer online:


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ray Barrett passes on

Ray Barrett spoke one of the most famous lines in all of science fiction, at least for British and Canadian SF fans of my generation, in the opening credits of each episode of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's Stingray: "Anything can happen in the next half-hour."

Rest in peace, Commander Shore.

SF Scope has an obituary.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Karen Gillan new companion for Doctor Who

Readers of my fiction occasionally think they can tease out details about my private life from what I write. One such surmise I hear periodically is that I must have a thing for red-headed women (they cite Lenore from Rollback and Tess from End of an Era).

I neither confirm nor deny this, but instead simply post the first official photo of the new companion for the Doctor, and say, "Yowza!"
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sometimes it's better to leave things as memories

OMG. So, with one of the Chapters gift cards I got for Christmas, I bought Quark -- the complete series -- on DVD. This science-fiction sitcom from 1978 was created by Buck Henry and starred Richard Benjamin. I fondly remembered it, but ...

Wow, is it ever crappy. Obvious, dumb jokes; intrusive laugh track; terrible sets. Holy cow. Television has come a looooong way in 30 years! I've seen way better student films or YouTube videos -- and this was a major network series!

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


Monday, January 19, 2009

Bob May: The Man Inside the Robot

I attend a lot of science-fiction conventions, of course. At some, you find actors from past SF TV shows selling autographed photos of themselves. In my whole life, I have bought precisely one such: on Sunday, November 25, 2007, at LosCon 34 in Los Angeles I met Bob May, the actor who was inside the Robot costume on Lost in Space, and had him sign the above photo of him and the robot suit for me. (Click the photo for a larger version.)

Bob May died yesterday. He was 69.

I have huge fondness for the Robot, as this excerpt from my novel Rollback attests:
"All right," said the robot. "Have you chosen a name for me yet?"

Sarah lifted her shoulders and looked at Don. "Gunter," he said.

"Is that G-U-N-T-H-E-R?" asked the robot.

"No H," said Don. And then, unable to help himself, "Get the H out."

"My little boy," Sarah said, smiling at Don. She'd said that often enough over the years, but, just now, it seemed to hit a little too close to home. She must have noticed his quickly suppressed wince, because she immediately said, "Sorry."

Still, he thought, she was right. He was a kid at heart, at least when it came to robots. And his absolute favorite when he was growing up, as Sarah well knew, was the robot from Lost in Space. He got miffed whenever people called that robot Robby, although Robby, the robot from the movie Forbidden Planet, did bear a passing resemblance to the one from Lost in Space -- not surprising, given that they were both designed by the same person, Robert Kinoshita. The Jupiter 2's robot was mostly just referred to as "the Robot" (or the "bubble-headed booby" and a hundred other alliterative insults by Dr. Smith). Still, many hardcore Lost in Space fans called it B-9, which was the model number it gave for itself in one episode. But Don had always contended that the barrel-chested automaton with vacuum-cleaner hoses for arms was actually named GUNTER, because another episode contained a flashback, showing the robot in its original packing crate, which was labeled "General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot." Despite pointing this out to people for -- God, for over seventy years now -- Don hadn't won many converts. But at least now there was a robot in the world who indisputably had that name.

Of course, thought Don, Sarah understood all this. She'd grown up watching Lost in Space, too, although what she'd loved most about it were the photos of real nebulas and galaxies used in space scenes ("Astronomical Photographs Copyrighted 1959 by the California Institute of Technology," the card on the ending credits said). But, he realized sadly, none of this would mean anything to Lenore or anyone else who was as young as he felt.

Here's my collection of Lost in Space robots:

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site

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