Take A Trip With Phileas Fogg This Week in Science Fiction
The Other Log of Phileas Fogg
by Philip José Farmer
If you’re not familiar with the “Wold Newton Universe” created by Philip Jose Farmer, here’s the gist: the Wold Newtonverse imagines a world where characters such as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, and Doc Savage all exist in the same reality, with many of their extraordinary abilities traceable back to a radioactive meteorite that crashed in Wold Newton, Yorkshire, England, in 1795. The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is set in the Wold Newton Universe, and reimagines the 80-day journey of Jules Verne’s Fogg not as the result of a wager, but as a mission to hunt down Captain Nemo. Originally published in 1973, The Other Log is getting a snazzy new reprint courtesy of Titan Books, and I’d argue it’s even more timely now. While many people have never heard of the Wold Newton universe, the mash-up mentality has become ever more common in pop culture, from comics such as Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Warren Ellis’ Planetary, to popular TV series that have crossed over into each other over the years. Even the Avengers movie, while not quite the same thing, is an expression of the desire to smush things we like together to see what happens. Iron Man is awesome by himself, but he’s a lot more interesting when part of a shared universe where he must interact with people like Captain America and Thor. If you’ve never checked out Farmer’s work, why not dive in with Phileas Fogg and the Wold Newton Universe? (And then if you really want your mind blown, click over and read about the Tommy Westphall Theory.)
Eureka (Syfy, 9/8c) – “Friendly Fire”
“Fargo deals with Holly’s death; Zane and Allison evaluate their romantic relationships after their experiences in the virtual reality; a project threatens to ignite the town.” See, that right there is why I gave up on this show. Eureka became like the holodeck episodes of Next Generation. If, every time somebody in the town conducts an experiment, that experiment goes haywire and threatens to kill everybody, maybe you people are not cut out for science.
Doctor Who: Dragonfire (DVD)
The Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and companions become embroiled in a hunt for a legendary treasure known as the Dragonfire. Featuring the first appearance of perhaps Doc Seven’s most famous companion, Ace.
Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol (DVD)
The Doctor and Ace visit a world where there is no sadness. Well, that’s not quite true. There’s no sadness allowed, so keep a chipper face on or you’ll be disappeared quick-like.
Doctor Who: Nightmare of Eden (DVD)
The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) lends a hand to the crews of two spacecraft fused together in a hyperspace collision. Unfortunately, there’s something nasty stalking the survivors.
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Pride House Specter/Bluegrass Bigfoot”
The team investigates purported ghostly activity in Texas and sightings of Bigfoots in Kentucky. Bigfoots? Bigfeet? Bigfeti?
The concept of platform-exclusive games seems to be fading more and more, but here’s one you PS3 loyalists can lord over your buddies. Starhawk combines third-person shooter action with real-time strategy gameplay in a universe that fuses Western and SF imagery, a la Firefly. The early word is that the single-player campaign is short, but the multiplayer is awesome.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC, 11:34/10:34c)
Taylor Kitsch makes an appearance to promote Battleship. Anybody want to take bets on whether John Carter is so much as mentioned?
Awake (NBC, 10/9c) — “Say Hello to My Little Friend”
No, this episode doesn’t see Britten mowed down during a coke-fueled gun battle with the police, but Britten does begin to remember more about the accident that changed his life and split his reality.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8/7c) — “The Countdown Reflection”
The fifth season finale features a cameo by NASA astronaut Mike Massimino. Because, you know, it’s not like astronauts have anything else to do these days, what with the budget cuts.
Confederate Flying Machine (National Geographic Channel, 8/7c)
“A look at recently uncovered documents from the 1860s detailing plans for a steam-powered flying machine, long before the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.” Pshaw. Da Vinci did it better in the 15th century.
Person of Interest (CBS, 9/8c) — “No Good Deed”
“A government conspiracy endangers a person of interest.” Could it be an extremely belated X-Files crossover? I’m going to say yes, absolutely!* Wold Newton FTW!
Touch (Fox, 9/8c) — “Music of the Spheres”
“A corrupt parole officer is exposed by Martin; a Brazilian street guitarist tries to charm a beautiful woman; Jake bonds with another boy who doesn’t speak; information about one of Teller’s patients is revealed to Clea and Martin.” Then Martin shoots the corrupt parole officer in the chest and saws his head off to use in an elaborate undercover ruse. No? Still just a lot of touchy-feely metaphysical gibberish? Oh well.
Fringe (Fox, 9/8c) — “Brave New World, Part 2”
Fringe wraps up its fourth — but thankfully not final — season, with the team racing to prevent “a catastrophic event that could cause mass death and destruction.” Look, that’s great and all, but I just want to know if next season’s going to be set entirely in 2036 or not.
MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) – “Bouncing Bullet”
The ‘busters investigate a “ricochet myth” inspired by the USA show Burn Notice. They still refuse, however, to perform a laboratory test to determine whether ‘bustin’ makes them feel good, and if so, to what extent.
* Absolutely not.