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Save Yourself: The Best Sci-Fi Space Arks

When the world is ending there’s only one way out: You’re going to need a “space ark” Sometimes the ark’s creators are worried that bad things are about to happen and it’s time to get out of Dodge. Other times the goal isn’t to abandon an imperiled planet, but rather to set out in search of a new place to settle among the stars. One variant is the so-called “generation ship,” a vessel designed to allow its human occupants to live out many generations before it finally reaches its distant destination.

If you had to book passage on one of science fiction’s space arks, which one would be best to board? After all, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, ranging from robots designed to attend to your every need, to hungry cannibals determined to eat your every part. Get your tickets early, people; it’s time to see what’s out there.

WorldsCollideAtomic Rockets (When Worlds Collide)
In Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer’s 1933 novel When Worlds Collide, South African astronomer Sven Bronson discovers a pair of rogue planets that are headed toward Earth and bringing all manner of trouble with them. Bronson A (he got to name them, obviously) will come close enough to cause tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions…not to mention it’ll wipe out the moon. But once it whips around the sun, things are going to get really bad, because it’s going to hit Earth dead on and destroy our homeworld. Naturally, several nations begin work on “atomic rockets” that can transport some of Earth’s population and animals to a new home on the second rogue world, Bronson B.

Advantages: Well, not being pulverized by a rogue planet is definitely a mark in the “pro” column. What’s more, Bronson B is not only habitable, but contains technology and cities left over by previously unknown alien inhabitants.

Disadvantages: You might have noticed we said the rockets could transport some of Earth’s population. Some ain’t by any stretch the same thing as all, and as you would expect, things turn violent when it comes time to decide who gets to go and who gets ringside seats for the end of the world. Moreover, the sequel, After Worlds Collide, reveals that the colonists still manage to find plenty of danger on Bronson B.

Bronson

But on the upside, everyone looks mah-vel-ous.

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The Toughest Science Fiction Characters Of All Time

Science fiction plays host to some of the toughest characters in all of fiction, so we’ve set out to put together a team of the toughest of that tough bunch.  Think of it like the Avengers, except with more bullets and a heavier focus on fighting aliens.

If you’ve got a job dismantling angry robots or shooting at things in outer space, or you need someone to travel back in time and kill your creepy Uncle before he’s born, we’ve got the ultimate team to do it.

These are the most unstoppable, gritty, hard-as-nails characters in all of science fiction. On their own each is fully capable of saving the universe. Together we suspect they’d literally be able to do anything.

SarahConnorSarah Connor

When you first met Sarah Connor, she was a meek, mild-mannered waitress just sort of floating aimlessly through her life. Encounters with a vicious, single-minded cyborg from the future, sent back to hunt you down so your son is never born, have a way of changing that. Over the course of the first two movies in the Terminator movies, Sarah transforms into a serious action star, teaching herself all manner of combat and survival skills, actively seeking out any and all knowledge that might help her in her one-woman war against Cyberdyne Systems and a future ruled by human-hunting machines. Basically, she’s a perfect addition to your team of mercs, and will always be working to improve her already ample skill set and add to the team.

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Heinlein’s Classic Stranger In A Stranger Land Revisited And Reviewed

stranger_in_a_strange_landI love Robert Heinlein’s 1961 sci-fi classic Stranger in a Strange Land, but it’s by no means a perfect book, and many people prefer some (if not all) of Heinlein’s other books. While 438 pages isn’t a lot by sci-fi/fantasy standards, it feels like a lot more if the tone, sexism, and other counterculture ideas in the book don’t work for a reader. But for me, the length of the book reveals the depth of Heinlein’s narrative talents.

The premise isn’t really all that science fictional: Valentine Michael Smith was born on Earth but raised on Mars (by Martians), and then returns to Earth as a young adult. Sure, it involves Martians and space travel between planets, but at its heart, the book is an exploration of society. It updates Rudyard Kipling’s question by asking what happens to a man raised on another planet when he makes his way back to Earth?

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The Best And Worst Dads In Science Fiction

JorElKentGiven how much of an impact our fathers have on our lives — even if only by their absence — it’s no surprise that daddy issues extend all the way to the final frontier. So, we decided to take a closer look at some of science fiction’s most memorable dads, and the ways their teachings and legacies shaped their children.

As the bar against all others will be measured, we decided on a duo that represent both sides of the old “nature vs. nurture” debate: the Kryptonian Jor-El and the Kansasan Jonathan Kent. Jor-El gave Kal-El the genetic potential to do great things, and his final acts were to ensure his son’s survival even as his planet died. On the other hand, Jonathan Kent (along with Martha, of course) helped shape Clark into a true hero worthy of the name Superman. So, with Jor-El and Jonathan serving as two sides of our paternal ideal, here are our picks…

AdamaWilliam Adama in Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica’s William Adama (Edward James Olmos) is a definite believer in tough love. This isn’t a man prone to expressing his feelings and emotions; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have them, it’s just that he’s not entirely comfortable showing them off to those around him. You get that way when you’ve seen as many battles as he has, and watched many people die under your command. Though they have a relationship that can be quite contentious at times, the fact that Bill cares for his son Lee (Jamie Bamber) is never in question, and he never abandons him when the going gets tough.

In addition to being an actual, biological father, Adama also serves as a kind of father figure for the last remnants of humanity aboard the Galactica and the other ships in the armada. You can tell how he feels for them how much it pains him when something bad happens to one of the vessels under his protection.

If He Was Our Dad: Adama is the kind of father that you can certainly respect and be proud of. He has integrity, he’s a man of his word, and he has the courage to stand behind his convictions. That said, you can’t help but wish he was a little bit more open and available, both emotionally and from a practical standpoint.

Ideal Father’s Day Gift: Adama is the kind of guy who would appreciate a firm handshake, a stiff drink, and maybe a cigar. After that, he could always use a new model ship to build in his nonexistent down time.

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Elon Musk: The Books That Most Influenced His Life

Elon reading

Elon Musk has done more in his life so far than most can do in a hundred lifetimes. He was an early investor (and, as he’s famously and problematically asserted, a co-founder) in Paypal and Tesla Motor Company, of which he is most definitely CEO. He designed a high-speed rail system called the Hyperloop, which I’m still pulling for, and best of all, he’s CEO of SpaceX, the hottest cargo- and soon people-moving spacecraft company around. How did Musk get to be the rich and famous inventor and tycoon we know today? Well, for one thing, the guy read — a lot.

Musk reportedly had a rough childhood in South Africa — he was runty and too smart for his own good, and kids called him “Muskrat.” So he’d do what a lot of people with rough childhoods (and adulthoods) do — he escaped into fantasy and science fiction. He recently shared a list of the books that have most influenced his life.

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Sci-Fi’s 10 Most Annoying Characters

NotSimplyIt’s happened countless times. You’ve got an otherwise great show or movie that’s firing on all cylinders… but there’s this one guy. This one bad apple who nearly spoils the whole bunch, simply by constantly doing stupid things or saying stupid things or hanging around looking at things with his stupid face. We’re not saying Carl from The Walking Dead was like that, but we are saying that if we had an awards show for that sort of thing, it would just be one long montage of Carl dying.

So, we’ve decided to celebrate some of the absolute worst, the characters from science fiction television who constantly made us want to punch a wall, especially if their head was between our fist and said wall. We’ll be measuring them against the accepted international unit of measurement for terribleness, Jar Jar Binks. (For purposes of this article, five Jar Jars is equivalent to going full Jar Jar, meaning you should nuke the site from orbit, because it’s the only way to be sure.)

One last note: we didn’t set out trying to populate this piece with so many kids, but it just sort of worked out that way.

IHOPCarl Grimes (The Walking Dead)

For all of its strengths, The Walking Dead can’t ever seem to get over the hill that is “strong character development.” There are likable characters and detestable characters, but Carl Grimes didn’t come from the mind of any mere writer, for he was created from the ashes of the former Tenth Circle of Hell. In Robert Kirkman’s comic series, Carl is a kid who is understandably having trouble coping with his trial-by-error education on survival in a post-apocalyptic world. In the TV show, Carl is a testosterone-free dip who is perpetually mad ’cause Daddy won’t let him hold the gun real close.

Seriously, I’ve been through an appendicitis exam that was less painful than watching this kid formulate ideas that he has an identity that’s worth more to the group than, say, a sock full of dead batteries. I don’t even blame the petulant performances from actor Chandler Riggs, because he’s not the one putting lines in his own mouth. For four seasons, Carl has been his own biggest threat, always finding himself in trouble after some adolescent tirade. He has yet to fuck it all up in Season 5, but as sure as the moon will rise tonight, it’s coming.

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How We Would Kill Him Off: Just as he’s about to have sex for the first time, he gets thrown into a giant dumpster, where everyone forgets about him and he starves to death.

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