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What Could This Series Have Been?

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Recently I watched the two hour premiere of Seaquest: DSV. For those you who don’t know, Seaquest was a science fiction show that premiered on NBC in the fall of 1993. It premiered under much fanfare at the time: it was Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg (fresh off his summer hit: Jurassic Park) and was the largest budgeted show at the time.

The premise is simple: it’s 2018 (four years from now!) and the world has colonized the oceans. Seaquest is like an underwater Enterprise: a giant flagship that patrols the oceans, acting as a deterrent and arbiter for conflicts.

I loaded up a Seaquest episode guide (there are very few accurate ones around right now!), grabbed a few diet cokes and let let the Netflix marathon begin.

I gotta say, watching the Premiere again after 21 years (I was nine at the time), the old feelings came back. The show’s premise had lots of promise: it explored the complex and scientific obstacles that will await us underwater. What if we find artifacts that rewrite world history? What if we discover the real reason behind the Bermuda Triangle?

The crew was composed of half-military, half-scientific crew. Roy Schneider played Nathan Bridger, an ex-Navy scientist that could command respect from both sides of the crew.
This premise actually reminded me of a much better time in the 1990’s when such a premise seemed plausible. This was written in 1990’s America, a relatively stable time in world history. The biggest problems involved getting military and civilians to get along. The threat wasn’t from outside.

The Pilot: A Solid Set Up

The pilot is actually a really good piece of 1990’s science fiction. It begins with ‘Captain Stark’, the female commander of Seaquest who goes crazy and needs to be relieved of her duty. This is actually the weakest part of the story: the villain.
Captain Stark is an 80’s TV cliche: an overly aggressive, shoulder-pad wearing woman with no clear motivations behind her high strung, aggressive behaviors. On a routine investigation, she decides that she wants to nuke some small subs, ‘because she’s tired of being a policemen’. This sets her up as the main villain, where she seeks revenge against Seaquest for ‘wronging’ her. Again, her motivations aren’t clear, because unfortunately the show’s theme isn’t exactly clear. This is a problem that the show overcomes with Nathan Bridger (in the Pilot, at least), but not with the villain.

Contrast this set up with the modern Battlestar Galactica. The show’s ‘civilian vs military’ dynamic is explored, but there’s a clear reason. Civilization has fallen apart, and the military wants to operate unhindered so that it can do what it needs to keep humanity surviving. This power, left unchecked, leads to tyranny, and indeed Galactica would frequently show military powers abusing their powers to achieve their own ends. Battlestar Galactica was a show built on conflict, and built in the post-9/11, paranoid time where the good guys were no longer good.

Here Seaquest is the flagship representing the UEO (United Earth Oceans), a vague Federation-meets-the-United-Nations type show and is considered to be a benevolent force. No one even questions the motivations of the UEO, which I found quite peculiar.

Nathan Bridger is the man who engineered Seaquest, and so in the pilot he is reluctantly recruited into Commanding Seaquest. The writers here use a neat trick to simulate a character arc without actually giving Nathan Bridger (or the show, for that matter), a strong character arc. He’s reluctant to rejoin any military organization because of a promise he made to his late wife. We learn that he lost his son in the service.
The events of the show basically involve Bridger saying ‘no, I don’t want to run this boat’, while he meets new crew that start to change his mind.

As the pilot progresses, Bridger becomes convinced that he needs to take command of the ship. This is mainly spurred by the return of Captain Stark, who has uploaded a ‘computer virus’ into Seaquest and is attacking it with a nuclear sub.

This is the other weak point of the show. ‘Computer Viruses’ were a pretty new thing. The ‘internet’ hadn’t really entered the public consciousness at this point.

When they discover that they have a computer virus, they go consult the 14 year old Jonathan Brandis for information. Now, this made me laugh. At this time, computers and the internet was something only young kids could understand, apparently. Even though Bridger was an engineer that designed the submarine himself, he needs a 14 year old to explain what a virus is.

Next is a montage of the crew coming together to fight the ‘virus’. You see people drilling holes in corridors and connecting new wires to bypass the ‘infected wires’. Okay, this is silly, but I’m willing to give them a pass. The internet, and viruses, were new and scary things at the time. People didn’t really understand them.

Of course, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, they had computers that acted like our internet does now: a ship’s computer that could work and would interact with other computers (other ships, planets, etc.).

But with Seaquest, it still feels like an abstract concept at this time.

Bridger’s character arc, where he goes from a semi-retirement to embracing his role as a Commander, makes for a satisfying Pilot episode, but ultimately sets up the show for failure. It doesn’t set up a central conflict in the series: a menacing force, a cause for the crew to fight for.

The conflicts on this series feel so far away. Which is like in the 1990’s where the big problems were all from places far away, and the threats just didn’t feel real. I would love to go back to that place. Maybe it’s because I was nine years old at the time.

But creating a society where they can’t make believable threats on television because there doesn’t seem to be any in real life? That actually sounds amazing.

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I don’t know about you, but I had a heck of a fun time last year watching The Flash TV series. I was most impressed with the show’s decision to go brighter and lighter than other superhero TV shows and movies. I’ve been putting in my computer and watching it while on my breaks. I have some of the top-rated hundred dollar earphones so it’s a really cool, immersive listening experience.

The trend in superhero movies, ever since Christopher Nolan’s Batman at least, was to go darker and grittier. The show felt so refreshing after all those moody superhero stories, up to and including the CW’s other show Arrow.

But one thing I really liked is how grounded The Flash is in science. I feel like I’m getting smarter with each episode. Now, pretty much all of the main characters on the show are scientists, so it’s understandable that the show’s focus goes into the science.

While it’s true that Irish isn’t a scientist, and her father isn’t a scientist either, I still think that these characters are smarter for having a scientist like Barry Allen around. They must pick up something, right? Maybe I should try dating someone smart and absorbing their intelligence through osmosis!

But as far as understanding The Flash’s abilities, there are scientifically-grounded explanations for how the Flash’s body operates. His faster-healing has to do with his body doing pretty much everything faster. He has a ravenous appetite, although it’s only touched on a few times (Barry Allen goes on many dates, but he doesn’t seem to order six entrees, which I imagine he would).

Now I’ve always had a fantasy of taking tons of science courses online and becoming some kind of super-genius like the characters in the Flash. I could register with Mathlab, or take MIT’s open-course curriculum. But I feel like I’m already getting a lot smarter just from watching Flash.

For example, in an episode they discover that the Flash’s incredibly fast movements can actually dissipate the energy from tornadoes (there was a villain that could create them). These are the kinds of scientific problems and solutions that keep Flash grounded.

But how realistic is it all, exactly? I decided to investigate.

In one panel before the show premiered, executive producer Greg Berlanti says that the science is ‘mostly BS’ with a kernel of truth.

My might heart is breaking.

I knew things like the ‘speedforce‘ in Flash were made up concepts, but I didn’t know that the scientific solutions that the characters came up with were basically false. That’s too bad.

Although, since we’re a science-fiction website, it puts the Flash firmly in the ‘science fiction’ show category. I mean, what kind of definition of science fiction wouldn’t include something like this?

In your everyday life, you might have come across a book, television show, video game, or movie that captured your imagination. It excited you. Perhaps you shared it with your partner or friends, but they just didn’t get as excited about it as you did. You may have wondered to yourself, are there other people with the same passion who want to

Well, this is where sci-fi conventions come in. These conventions grow more popular every year. Like-minded people meet in these conventions to discuss their passions, experience the boundless reaches of creators and writers, and network. There are a variety of sci-fi conventions and in the guide below we discuss the top 4 and what they have to offer.

Getting to the Con: United Vacations Promo Codes

Unless you happen to be lucky enough to live near one of the major conventions, you will probably need to spend some money on travel to and accommodations at the event. If you want to do that without blowing your vacation budget for the next two years, have a look at https://couponcoder.com/united-vacations-promo-code for some great prices. Besides, the less you spend on travel the more money you can spend on merch!

You can also get some decent discounts on car rentals at Avis.com. You’re welcome!
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Top Science Fiction Conventions in the World

Sci-Fi is popular in places all over the world, not just the US. Here are some of the biggest conventions you might want to attend:

San Diego Comic-Con International

Way beyond just comic books now, each July the San Diego Convention Center opens its doors to the biggest sci-fi convention. For science fiction enthusiasts, this is their point of pilgrimage. During this convention, entertainment firms promote currently airing shows and roll out previews for upcoming television series and films.

Occasionally, there are panels where you are allowed to ask your favorite actor/actress questions. The event organizers understand not all people in the convention are locals so they list parties and events around town happening during the convention. This convention lasts for four days.

Worldcon

The Worldcon is one of the oldest conventions; it started in 1939. Worldcon is held in different cities each year. The Hugo award, one of the most prestigious awards for sci-fi creators, is awarded during this convention. As a member of Worldcon, you get voting privileges.

During this convention, you get the opportunity to meet artists, authors, publishers, literally agents, and editors. You can also participate in live-action gaming, panel discussions, art show, Klingon Opera and autographing sessions. If you are a budding writer, you can have your work critiqued by an editor.

Novacon

Established in autumn 1971, Novacon is the biggest sci-fi convention in the UK. It is held annually in November and is organized by the Birmingham Science Fiction group. At this convention you get the opportunity to meet authors and likeminded people. You also have access to a dealer room and the art room.

The dealer room has a wide selection of collectable books, new fiction books, and second hand books. During this 3-day event, Nova awards are awarded to the best artist and fan.

Star Trek Convention Las Vegas

If you consider yourself a Star Trek fan, “Trekkie”, then you must attend this convention. Each year, this event is held across different cities in the US. This year’s Star Trek convention will be held in Las Vegas.

In preparation for this event, make sure you learn some Klingon. During the convention you get to dress up as your favorite alien, meet actors such as Dominic Keating, and ask questions during panel discussions.

How to prepare for your first sci-fi convention

In order to have a fantastic experience on your first event, you need to amply prepare. Here are some few tips to help you maximize the fun:

  1. Make sure your gadgets are fully charged and bring spares
  2. Pack only the essentials. A heavy back pack will tire you easily and minimize your movement.
  3. Make all your bookings early.
  4. Get yourself a con badge. This gives you access to rooms such as the con-suite. In this room you will get free snacks and drinks.

Sci-fi conventions are important. They help enthusiasts network and see the possibilities of the future. The guide above covers the top 4 world science fiction conventions your must attend and tips to help you prepare in order to maximize the fun.

The Right Look: Stock Photos On A Budget

They say we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but the reality of things is, a lot of us do. Everyone who’s tried their hand at getting their writing out there quickly learns that. A book’s cover is what immediately grabs a potential reader’s attention, and is the first step to getting them reading.

Working With Coupons

From the options available, it’s pretty safe to say that buying photos would be the better option for 99 percent of us. We have to keep in mind, though, that we’re trying to keep our overheads at a minimum. If you’re at this stage in you book development process, you will doubtless have interacted with various design platforms, forums, or specialists in the writing and publishing arena. You can also save money on pretty much anything, including a2 hosting coupons

For iStock Coupons

These guys are great for offering discount coupons to affiliated stock-photo sites like iStock.com and Getty Images. Keep an eye out for these offers as you’re making your online rounds and you’ll definitely see some good offers floating around. Good luck!

 

Why Images Matter

Whatever your content looks like, you need to get your cover right if you want to succeed. The problem comes in here. Potential readers have thousands of book options at their fingertips, so what would make them pick out your book in particular: that is the question that should concern you.

A good title is only half the battle. You need to have an eye-catching, intriguing image on your cover design that fits in with your content perfectly. What options are out there? What if you’re working on a budget?

The Options Available

There are probably only three realistic options out there for those in need of images to incorporate into their cover designs; either make them yourself, hire an agency, or buy them yourself.

Creating Photos – There are lots of people out there who hire professional photographers to take care of their image creation requirements. Needless to say, this can cost quite a pretty penny, and is thus out of reach for many aspiring authors. There will also be a bit of a time demand in coordinating with the photographer to get what you’re looking for.

Some people have the talent or nerve to take matters into their own hands and shoot the photos themselves, but this can be a hit-or-miss kind of thing. Sure, there’s no accounting for taste, but very few people can pull this off unless they have a very good eye and a clear vision of what they require. The time investment is a major one here, even if there will be a bit of cash saved.

Hire an Agency – Cost-wise this is a broad category that includes relatively cheap options like 99designs.com where freelancers compete in a contest to design your cover, to big agencies that offer cover designs backed by market research and experience. This tends to be cost prohibitive for most authors who are just starting out.

Buying Photos – Stock photo agencies exist to serve people in this very situation. They stockpile and sell photos that are already made and edited at a fraction of the cost you would incur if you were to hire a professional for custom-made photos.

There are thousands, perhaps millions of stock photo options you can choose from, meaning the difficulty for you won’t be in finding a suitable image, but settling on one in particular. The fact that they are readily available on these platforms means that your time input will be considerably shortened, and you can launch your book or e-book that much sooner.

 

Star Trek: TNG Blu Ray: How Does It Look?

Season 5 of TNG has been released. I’ve been going through the new seasons to assess how the show holds up in 1080p definition.

Obviously the Creative team behind Star Trek didn’t know that the medium of television would change so drastically in the new millenium. They did do some ‘future-proofing’, however. They filmed episodes using actual film, unlike many other shows in the 90’s that used low-definition videotape.
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The special effects, which used a combination of small models and computer effects, were a hybrid of film and video: the models were filmed on film, but the effects themselves were filmed using video.
It made sense at the time: no one was watching TNG episodes on the big screen, so there was no need. But it also meant that getting TNG Bluray ready would involve redoing all of the visual effects.

Thankfully the producers went ahead of it, and we can enjoy TNG in glorious HD. Granted, the episodes are still filmed in 4:3 aspect ratio (instead of film’s 16:9 ratio). As much as I’d like to watch these shows in 16:9, it would be highly improbable. If they did release it, there would be lighting equipment, crew members, and unfinished sets clearly visible.

But that’s how it should be: the directors filmed the episodes thinking it was 4:3. If they had known it would be shown in 16:9, they would have staged scenes differently.

The Strings are Visible

The first thing you notice right away is how vivid the uniforms are. On TV the reds and blues were subdued, but in 1080p the bright colors are striking. They aren’t quite as vivid as the red and blue uniforms of The Original Series, however.

This isn’t a bad thing at all. What I did notice was that I could see the stage makeup on the actors’ faces. Sometimes Patrick Stewart would look like a chimney sweeper.

Data’s Eyes Aren’t Yellow

One cool detail I noticed was how Data’s eyes were slightly green. Not yellow, as the DVD quality images show. I actually watched one episode on a movie theatre screen, and I was amazed at how green his eyes were. Again, I’m not sure if this was intentional: they may have given him green contact knowing that they would appear yellow/gold on television.

It’s just one of those cool things where you realize how much high definition can change something that you’ve looked at for twenty years. It can appear new.

As I watched the Star Trek episodes, I began to realize that these were actors, in costumes and make up, saying some lines to a camera. They were probably thinking about what to have for lunch in early 1990’s Los Angeles (where the show was filmed). The HD took the glossy sheen off of the show. It became less immersive than it once was.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. I could appreciate the cheeziness. Maybe in twenty years people will look at Game of Thrones reruns in the same way.

Meanwhile, check out the future of learning here.

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