Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Who Is Captain Phasma?

Star WarsSlowly but surely we’re learning about the fresh faces, and in one instance a back, we’ll see in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Still, these are only the handful of newcomers to the franchise who appear in the trailer, and we know there are many more lurking around out there. For instance, what is Gwendoline Christie’s character’s name? No idea, we don’t even know what she looks like. But today we do have one more name to add to the list, though that’s all the details there are at the moment.

What the hell, we’ll throw a spoiler warning right here, even though there’s not all that much to tell.


The Entire Run Of Starlog Magazine Is Available Online For Free


From August 1976 through April 2009, Starlog Magazine kept its finger on the pulse of science fiction in film, television, and beyond. It was one of the predecessors of sites like Giant Freakin’ Robot, and many of us here at GFR have fond memories of flipping through the pages to get the latest on SF projects back in the days before everydamnthing was on the Internet. Earlier this year, Starlog came full circle and returned to life as a website, but today I’m more interested in its heritage, a legacy you can explore — in full — courtesy of the Internet Archive. There you can read Starlog’s entire run online, for free.


The Walking Dead Spinoff Isn’t Set Anywhere Near Georgia

the-walking-dead-infected-season-four-11The Walking Dead has been going strong for four-and-a-half seasons at this point, but we’ve really only ever explored Georgia. No offense to the Peach Tree State, but we’d like to see what’s going on elsewhere in the world, to check out how other folks cope with being overrun by hungry undead cannibals. That’s where the long-gestating spinoff comes in. We know that it is called Cobalt, we even know a couple of the main actors, but we weren’t sure where it is set, until now. And the setting couldn’t be any more different from rural Georgia, as the action takes place in Los Angeles.

TV Line reports that the zombie apocalypse is indeed spreading to the City of Angels. Not only is that more than 2000 miles away from Atlanta, but it’s also a totally opposite environment. Sure, the core series has ventured into Atlanta a time or two, but they primarily stick to the small towns and less densely settled areas. Setting the series in a major urban center, in such a population center, automatically makes this a different kind of narrative, which is exactly what we want out of a new show.


Star Trek 3: Is This The Real Reason Roberto Orci And Paramount Split?

Star Trek Into DarknessYesterday we heard that there are five names on Paramount’s shortlist of directors they would like to take over the helm on Star Trek 3 now that Roberto Orci has been ousted. There are plusses and minuses to all of them, but now the motivation for the split between the studio and would-be first time director is coming into focus. A big part of the reason appears to be that Orci’s vision for the film didn’t jive with the shifting ideas the studio has about the picture, as they saw how successful Marvel was with Guardians of the Galaxy and want the next Trek adventure to be more like that.

Don’t get us wrong, we loved Guardians of the Galaxy, and it’s definitely the best attempt to make a Star Wars movie since Return of the Jedi, but it’s hard to imagine that aesthetic translating well to Star Trek. There’s plenty of action, but it’s not necessarily of the swashbuckling, serial-influenced sort, and while there’s humor in Trek, the sarcastic, smart ass silliness of Guardians would be really out of place (though Star-Lord does at times feel like a send up of Captain Kirk). And apparently Orci felt the same way.


Alex Garland’s Robot Thriller Ex Machina Drops This First Clip

For a long time, we only heard bits and pieces about Alex Garland’s directorial debut, Ex Machina, which already sounded promising enough to grab our attention. Then there was a brief flurry of activity as it found a distributor, announced a release date, unveiled some artwork, and unleashed a trailer in a relatively short span. After getting our first real glimpse, it became one of our most anticipated movies of 2015. It looks stunning and tense and moody, and all of that is on display in this new clip for robotics thriller.

This may be Garland’s first time in the big chair, but his track record as a writer includes the likes of 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd, among others. The difference is, this time he gets to bring his words to life exactly as he wants, without filtering them through another artist. And from the look of things, he’s done a bang up job.


NASA Gets An Unexpected Budget Increase—Yes, You Read That Right

nasacrewWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone says NASA? Maybe the Apollo missions, maybe the ISS, maybe the Challenger disaster. Whatever it is, I bet one thing no one thinks of anymore is piles and piles of money. NASA is perennially underfunded to the extent that its spokespeople have said its meager budget puts people at risk for asteroid hits, may jeopardize future Mars missions, and generally spells nothing good for the future of America’s space program. So far, 2014 has been a decent year for the space agency, though, with the successful test flight of the Orion spacecraft and the renewal of seven planetary missions. But 2014—and beyond—just got a whole lot better. When the House of Representatives passed the “CRomnibus” bill last week, thankfully averting another government shutdown, it actually gave NASA more than it asked for, raising the agency’s budget by 2% for next year.

The Senate passed the bill over the weekend, and now all President Obama has to do is sign it. Considering that the bill allocates $550 million more for NASA than Obama requested for 2015 (and that a bunch of other hitches were ironed out over the past week), there’s no reason to think he won’t . What that means is NASA is poised to receive just over $18 billion total next year, which is its highest level of funding in a while—$364 million more than they received last year.