Dune, but not forgotten.

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President

dune

I’m the kind of dope that spent one whole summer seated at the dilapidated picnic table in my backyard. A true pain in the ass to swing your legs over the bench seats and under the rain worn planks. Breathe a sigh of relief and realize you are trapped in a leg lock that prevents you from getting up to answer the phone which is in the pocket of your jacket in the dining room and rings the minute you settle in. A deep thirst envelops you, and there is no easy way to hop to the refrigerator to get a cold drink. Then the pressure in your bladder forces you to stand, untangle your twisted legs and slip on the grass as you move in a frenetic drum tattoo to the bathroom for relief. And I think it’s gonna rain today. Continue reading

So Long, Mom and Dad, I’ve Got A Living to Give

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
20th Sunday-01I’ve been obsessed with books on popular science for as long as I can remember. As a toddler, I carried a copy of Fred Hoyle’s “Frontiers of Astronomy” in the back pocket of my diaper. Willy Ley’s “Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel” in the front basket of my bike.  “One, Two, Three… Infinity” by George Gamow tucked away under the covers of the Latin Mass Missal Sunday mornings. The Abbé Georges Lemaître meant a whole lot more to me than did Father Gildea at St. Joe’s swinging a boat of choking incense to cleanse the altar. Those books contained and informed the totality of my imagination. They were each a sweet adventure. Continue reading

Jeepers Creepers Where’d Ya Get Them Peepers

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President

gorts-eyeMy old man, a fierce, brave, two-fisted sort of a guy, turned to a quavering shake of fear on the viewing of “The Hands of Orlac” or “The Beast with Five Fingers.” “Something scares the hell out of me,” he told me one candid day, “about a disembodied hand crawling around on the floor.” Lord, knows what he thought about the five fingertip spider ramble of the Adams Family’s “Thing.” Continue reading

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to the 4th Century BCE

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
Alphaville Spectacle is the last of the six components of tragedy according to Aristotle in Poetics. In order of importance are Plot, Character, Thought (here’s one Hollywood seems to miss altogether), Diction, Song (or melody – got to have a chorus, of cour-us.) Yeah, I know, it says tragedy, but when comedy and tragedy are the choices in drama, today’s “serious” SF films fall under the rubric of “tragedy. When I get enough energy to shuffle off to a movie theater, the films I am doomed to view only manage to present spectacle. The argument that special effects and noise are the only things that bring in the money are pretty poor ones from almost any but the point of view of corporate greed. If I see one more, confusing transformation of a mobile vehicle to autonomous alien simulacrum or the cranking view of explosions in the workings of the internal combustion engine, I may turn my drinking from a sipping glass of Jack in the evening to a quart of 10W30. Continue reading

Bleak and White

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
Einstein_tongue For what it’s worth. Somethin’s happenin’ here. I’ve come across it too many times. Whisking through a series of internet sites, on the prowl for an interesting bit of information. My eyes drawn to an image from the turn of the Nineteenth Century, or in the second or third decade of the Twentieth. It’s subtle enough. A dab of dull red, washed out green, faded orange. The likeness of a newsstand in the center of a busy street filled with garish three colored pulp magazines, or Mark Twain with pink cheeks, or Bonnie, in a chartreuse dress and Clyde in gray spats over black shoes on the running board of a red tinted automobile, grinning out from behind a brace of guns. All, I am told, to give me an “actual” view of history. To re-envision the past. Continue reading

Creature Feature

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
Marilyn and the CreatureA few years ago Universal released box sets of their world famous monster movies. Frankenstein in all of his guises. Dracula with penetrating eyes and teeth. The very hairy Wolfman nipped by Wolfbane. Ardeth Bay, the mummy, cursed, arisen, and seeking a lost love. The outlier of the group was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Made a couple decades later than the original chillers.

I watched the trilogy in one day. The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Revenge of the Creature and The Creature Walks Among Us. The scope of the tragedy unfolded before me. It is an unhappy arc showing the worst side of scientific research. The full circle of the story makes the creature a tragic figure. Written in the times of Aeschylus there would have been a chorus donning masks, perhaps in mimicry of the creature, commenting in dance and song on the wrath the gods laid on our half fish, half human missing link. Continue reading

Me and Robbie

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President
Robbie and Me smA schism in my fantasy life swells up and bites me in my consciousness from time to time. It is the kind of knot tangled only by a fan of popular literature and film. In my case, stuffed in the skin called science fiction. I identified with such fervor to the genre that, in the fifth grade, I was convinced, spawned by too many movies and a predilection for SF mags, I was a Martian. Green skin. Tentacles. A large bulbous head with superior intelligence shining from my nictitating membrane. It was glorious. Continue reading

Fandom Is A Way of Life

WS1934-05_Cover_jpgI’ve been doing a lot of reading about early science fiction fandom. So, what’s early? The period from 1926 to the day the US was bombed into World War II. Four books have been my guide. “The Immortal Storm” – Sam Moskowitz, “All Our Yesterdays”- Harry Warner Jr, “A Wealth of Fable” – Harry Warner Jr, and “The Futurians” Damon Knight. With a back beat from “The Way the Future Was” – Frederick Pohl, and “Wonder’s Child” – Jack Williamson. Continue reading

FIAWOL

The other night, in preparation for a long bout of science fiction, at about three AM I came across an article in Doug Ellis’ “Pulp Vault No 14” about a trip Otto Binder and two other Chicago science fiction fans made to the east coast to meet with their counterparts in New York City in 1935, the likes of Mort Weisinger and Julius Schwartz. For those who don’t know, Otto Binder was an early science fiction author, who wrote with his brother Earl, under the nom de plume Eando Binder. Their first story “The First Martian” was published in the October 1932 edition of Amazing Stories. You can read it here – https://archive.org/details/TheFirstMartian Continue reading

I Am Become Death

I discovered a Danish/Norwegian/British six-episode TV series entitled “The Heavy Water War” (Kampen om tungtvannet) while scanning the Netflix stream. The program, in Danish, Norwegian, German and English depending on the location, the “mise-en-scène,” is worth watching. The scene portraying the plight of Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg as they met in Copenhagen in 1941 drew me in. Another production, “Copenhagen,” both a stage play and a movie, enacts the encounter of the two physicists. Bohr was in touch with the Allies, Heisenberg under the thumb of the Nazi war machine. Not much is known of the day, and nothing is answered by either drama. Why did Heisenberg request the meeting? Why did Heisenberg spend his time developing a nuclear reactor rather than working on the calculations to prove the atomic bomb would work? Continue reading