For all its problems, one thing Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar did very well was inspire a sense of wonder at the possibilities of traveling beyond our cradle and into the larger universe beyond. For anyone who grew up as a space junkie or sci-fi fan, it powerfully tapped into that part of us that longs to step foot on alien worlds and look up at distant suns. Well, if Interstellar tapped into that longing and wanderlust, this short film, entitled Wanderers, may do so even more powerfully.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is the closest we have to a successor of the late, great Carl Sagan. He’s a passionate, vocal defender of science in general and space exploration in particular. He’s also one of the first people the news networks call when they need a knowledgeable talking head to come sound off on whatever the latest space-related news story happens to be. Sagan and Tyson actually met one another when Tyson applied to Cornell University, where Sagan was teaching, and Tyson has often described Sagan as a mentor. Here’s how Tyson described their first meeting:
Interestingly, when I applied to Cornell, my application dripped of my passion for the study and research of the Universe. Somehow the admissions office brought my application to the attention of the late Dr. Sagan, and he actually took the initiative and care to contact me. He was very inspirational and a most powerful influence. Dr. Sagan was as great as the universe, an effective mentor.
Last Friday night, I was at a bar and a woman I’d never met before joined our group. A little while later, I heard her referring to someone named Seth, but I didn’t pay much attention — until it became clear that she was talking about Seth MacFarlane. And not just talking about him, but referring to him as though they were friends. I waited until the next semi-polite break in conversation and then clarified that she was indeed talking about THE Seth MacFarlane, which she was — apparently she’s been working for him for three years doing script supervising (not that I knew script supervisor was an actual job title). I asked her if she by any chance had done any work on the new Cosmos, and she pulled up a picture on her phone of her and Neil deGrasse Tyson looking all chummy. “When does the show premiere?” I asked her, given that Fox had been pretty vague about its pilot date. “I’ll find out,” she said, and promptly started texting someone. I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. “March 9,” she announced a minute later. Now, Fox has confirmed that, indeed, March 9 is the start date, and they’ve released a new trailer (see above — the original trailer is below) for the show. Between this conversation and the new trailer, I’m more excited than ever to see the new series. I hope everyone else is too.
Given my fascination with the universe, my love for Carl Sagan, and my hopes that the reboot of Cosmos will take viewers by storm, it’s only appropriate that my last post of the year would be about space — and more specifically, about a planetary scientist who arranged a pretty awesome photo op of Earth from the Cassini spacecraft.
Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini Imaging Science team and professor of astrophysics and planetary scientists, is following in Carl Sagan’s footsteps, especially when it comes to appreciating the significance of Earth as the “pale blue dot.” The phrase refers to a photograph taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 probe on its way out of the Solar System, nearly four billion miles from Earth. At Sagan’s request, NASA had the probe turn around and take a photo of Earth, which Sagan then elegantly wrote about. While the photo provides some perspective on the enormity of the universe and the relative smallness of Earth, the original image wasn’t actually that good, and Porco has been wanting to update that image for a long time.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of his mentor Carl Sagan’s much-lauded and much-loved documentary Cosmos will air next year on Fox. What I want for Christmas is for the show to be compelling and for people to watch it.
The trailer shows a slicked-up version of the original iteration of the show, which makes sense, given all the special effects and cinematic wizardry (not to mention developments in our knowledge of space) that have been developed over the past 20 years. It still features its host manning what looks to be some futuristic spacecraft — the only difference is that Tyson dons a pair of bad-ass sunglasses. Tyson’s no dummy. He knows that in these times, he has to appeal to audiences that have short attention spans and little interest in space. As he said at the end of his wonderful speech at the National Space Symposium, the rhetoric most space advocates use (All humans are explorers! It’s in our DNA!) has grown tired, and only appeals to people who are already bought into the importance of space exploration.
2013 Black List/Hit List Selections Include Moon Landings, Memory Thieves, And Carl Sagan’s Love Life
It’s a big day in the screenwriting world. The infamous Black List released its 2013 edition today, compiling a list of the “most liked” unproduced screenplays from the year, as voted on by film executives. The so-called “Hit List” is a newer creation, having only begun releasing a public version of the list in 2010. Its results are based on nominations and votes by a board of development execs, producers, writers, agents, managers, directors, and assistants. The Hit List also focuses specifically on spec scripts — scripts shopped around by writers unsolicited, rather than written as assignments. As such, the Hit List is all about celebrating fresh emerging talent.
Together, the two Lists provide a glimpse into many of the films that we’ll be seeing and hopefully celebrating in the years to come — and quite a few brilliant gems that, sadly, will never make it to the screen. There’s a ton of science fiction represented on the list, as well as “based on real events” looks at the lives of folks like 2001 director Stanley Kubrick and the legendary Carl Sagan. Here’s our guide to some of the science fiction movies just over the horizon.