Week of July 2, 2001
John Yardley, 1925-2001.
One of the designers of the first American manned spacecraft has died. John
Yardley, a McDonnell-Douglas engineer, headed up the team which drew
up the specs of the Mercury space capsule, the vehicle which launched Alan
B. Shepard, John Glenn and the other Mercury astronauts into suborbital
and orbital flights. Yardley served on the advisory group investigating
the fatal 1967 launch pad fire that killed the crew of Apollo 1, and had
design input into the two-man Gemini space capsule as well as the space
shuttle. He was 76.
Source: Associated Press
The return of Atari.
Ever since Hasbro Interactive - who had bought the rights to the Atari name and
all of its game properties from a hard drive manufacturer for a mere $5 million
just a few years ago - went under early this year and was sold to Infogrames,
classic video game fans have wondered what would
become of the miraculously revived Atari catalog. Fear not, joystick jockeys -
Infogrames is already unleashing a new Atari title that will keep gamers happy
on many a platform. Atari Anniversary Edition, due in early July
(hey, that's now!), will contain emulated versions of the arcade classics Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Battlezone, Centipede, Crystal Castles, Gravitar, Millipede,
Missile Command, Pong, Super
Breakout, Tempest and
Warlords. PC, Playstation and Dreamcast versions are planned thus
Another popular Lucasfilm flick coming to DVD.
So you say Star Wars Episode
I isn't enough for you? You need more George Lucas cinema on
shiny round discs? Then you shall have it this november when a special
edition of Willow is released on DVD. Surely second only to
Howard The Duck as the most-requested George Lucas film ever
on DVD, Willow will feature commentaries, documentaries, and
Source: Sci-Fi Wire
Terminator DVD finally sees U.S. release.
October will also see the long-awaited release of The Terminator
on DVD, a title which has already been released overseas. The double-sided
DVD version being released this fall by MGM will include commentary from James
Cameron and a new documentary.
Source: Sci-Fi Wire
Big Finish commissions new Who from fan writers.
When Big Finish Productions kicked off their new line of licensed
Doctor Who Audio
Adventures in 1999, they anticipated that fan writers the world over would
be sending in spec scripts for future audio dramas - but little did they suspect
they would be deluged. Big Finish had to close its doors to unsolicited
submissions soon afterward, but they're still digging through the
mountain of stories sent in by hopeful fan writers. From that burst of material
sent in, Big Finish has announced that two of those previously unpublished
writers will see their stories turned into future Audio Adventures. Australian
Philip Pascoe's ...ish will star Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, and is
tentatively set for an August 2002 release, while Joseph Lidster's The
Priory will be set in and around a modern-day nightclub and will star
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, for release in September 2002. Big Finish
is also asking fans to understand that this doesn't mean they're opening the
doors to more fan submissions - in fact, they're still going through the huge
amount of material they received in the initial months of the Audio Adventures.
Source: Big Finish Productions
When Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski took his
new series to Warner Bros., they were a little scared to touch another
science fiction series. Why? Because of the V saga, that's
why. Upon its original 1984 broadcast, V was the most expensive
American miniseries to date, and that money wasn't spent on overpaid
stars, but special effects which were crafted to motion picture
standards rather than those of television. Truth be told, V
nearly bankrupted the Warner Bros. TV division, and scared more than
one studio away from SF until the late 80s (when a certain long-shot
syndicated series made SF TV hip
and profitable again). V spawned another miniseries and a
miserable flop of a weekly series, but - on the upside - introduced
SF fans to Michael Ironside and the music of Dennis McCarthy, who was hastily
brought aboard to completely rescore V: The Final Battle. The
V DVD (say that five times fast) contains the entire original
miniseries as envisioned by Kenneth Johnson, who later created the
Alien Nation series for
V: The Miniseries
Throwing viewers to the lions.
It takes me a while sometimes to get around to seeing "Big Movies." I
didn't get to see Titanic until it had been on tape for six
months. I finally got around to watching Gladiator just
I have been awestruck by both these movies. Not because they're great
movies. In fact, I would even go so far as to say these are small movies
with big bucks. I enjoyed them, but they aren't the sort of movies that are
going to etch themselves into my memory.
Strangely, though, the subject of throwing fat money at thin stories is only
a peripheral issue. What concerns me is the recent trend to intensely
brutal and graphic violence.
Saving Private Ryan ushered in the new trend to show violence
and death as it really is. I tend to be in favor of the idea. I think that if
we show people the real effect of violent activity, then perhaps we can find
some long-term solution to minimizing violent behavior.
But I worry that instead of highlighting the misery and pain of a violent
death we are instead further glorifying violence. It's a precarious
tightrope that directors, writers, and producers have to walk across. Where
does creating a compelling story stop and rollicking in blood begin?
Honor and Loyalty are time-honored themes that never go out of style.
Everytime you winced while watching Saving Private Ryan, you knew
that Steven Spielberg was using the violence to advance the plot and tell us a
complicated story of commitment, patriotism, and love. This told a small
story of heroism and taught us more about World War II than dozens of movies
about covert bridge demolitions combined.
Gladiator is a completely different movie. Here was a film
with stock characters in a recycled plot with lovingly and beautifully
choreographed and photographed mayhem. The point was lost with every thrust
of a sword. The dialog made me wince nearly as often as the many decapitations.
The plot and themes were being used to advance the violence. I fully
understand that you can't really tell a gladiator story without spilling
some blood on the sand. Director Ridley Scott allowed form and style to
trump thought and substance, which is one of his hallmarks. Despite Russell
Crowe's persistent scowl, this movie reveled in its brutality, pandering to
our basest, most animalistic instincts.
All we're doing now is ratcheting up the intensity level so that hack
filmmakers can have an excuse to increase their already excessive levels of
I am not against movies that are created primarily for entertainment. I
think my weakness for Godzilla movies is quite evident of that. I don't
think it's necessary for every movie to make a statement. But movies such as
Gladiator create their own statements due to their impact on
society. Gladiator was supposed to be a Big Epic Movie. What we
got was vacuous, frilly entertainment.
Due to a weird confluence of space and time, I rented Gladiator
the same weekend I bought a Robotech boxed set. Running roughly the same
themes, Robotech provided me with a more satisfying and adult viewing
theLogBook.com mentioned in Playstation Magazine.
A little late-breaking news here (but is it also live and local?) - I've just
gotten word that the August issue of U.S. Playstation Magazine includes a
mention of theLogBook.com. If you're checking the site out for the first time
after seeing us in the pages of Playstation Magazine, welcome - and we
hope you'll stick around!