What do you get when you combine a Russian cosmonaut, a rumored teleportation from history, and actress Daphne Zuniga together? Why, you get another installment of the peoples, places, and events so near and dear to our hearts! Get ready for This Week in Science Fiction … beginning in five, four, three, two, one … now!
1939 saw the first televised NFL game between the Eagles and the Dodgers. Proving “it’s a small world after all,” Walt Disney World welcomed its 100-millionth guest in 1979. Cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov took his record 9th spacewalk in 1993. And India entered the current race to the moon when, in 2008, the nation launched Chandrayaan-1, its first unmanned lunar mission. Auspicious birthdays include BACK TO THE FUTURE’s Christopher Lloyd (1932), THE FLY’s Jeff Goldblum (1952), and sci-fi author Dafydd ab Hugh (1960).
According to the calculations of Archbishop James Ussher, our world’s “creation by God” began on this day in 4004 BC. Several millenia later in 1814, mankind began creating some of its own when the world’s first plastic surgery was performed in England. Kurt Russell became the ultimate SOLDIER in the 1998 film of the same name. In 2001, Apple released the iPod, changing the way the music industry did business. DEFYING GRAVITY was pulled down by its own weight, airing its finale on TV in 2009. Auspicious birthdays include noted author Michael Crichton (1942), film director Sam Raimi (1959), and THE GREEN LANTERN’s Ryan Reynolds (1976).
On this day in 1593, palace soldier Gil Perez grew tired and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he’d somehow been teleported from Manila to Mexico City! Authorities quickly imprisoned the dazed and confused Perez as they feared he must’ve deserted his post (to guard the Manilan governor). Two months later, a ship arrived, bearing news that the Governor Gomez Perez Dasmarinas had, in fact, been executed by Chinese pirates on Oct. 23. The last time anyone had seen Gil Perez at the palace was, indeed, on the same night. How did the man travel almost 9,000 miles in less than 24 hours? My guess is we’ll never know. Auspicious birthdays include director Martin Campbell (1943), JURASSIC PARK’s BD Wong (1960), FARSCAPE’s Raelee Hill (1972), and HEX’s Jemima Rooper (1981).
In 1955, Tappan sold the very first microwave oven. In 1960, the very first electronic wristwatch was placed on sale in New York. In 1974, the U.S. Air Force fired the very first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). In 2001, Windows XP first became available to the general public. Auspicious birthdays include TIME TUNNEL’s Whit Bissel (1909), LEGEND’s Billy Barty (1924), and veteran Hollywood producer Gale Anne Hurd (1955).
Lead pencils were first used on this day back in 1492. The seminal ending of the Wild West – the gunfight at the OK Corral – took place on this day in 1881. The shoot-out is such a centerpiece of American cultural history it even was given prime-time treatment in the STAR TREK episode, “Spectre of the Gun.” In 1984, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger first teamed up to deliver THE TERMINATOR to theatres. In 2006, the BBC spun off TORCHWOOD from its origins on DOCTOR WHO. Auspicious birthdays include sci-fi author Stuart Byrne (1913), famed animator Ralph Bakshi (1938), sci-fi author Jennifer Roberson (1953), and ANDROMEDA’s Lisa Ryder (1970).
Back in 1904, the world’s first subway – the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit) – opened in New York City with fares at one nickel. Computer graphics took one small step for man in 1982 when the IBM PC became EGA graphics compatible. In 1988, Steven Spielberg’s ET was released on home video with a whopping 14 million units pre-sold. Auspicous birthdays include TIME BANDITS’s John Cleese (1939), STAR TREK: VOYAGER’s Robert Picardo (1953), and the man who saw the future of news, Matt Drudge (1966).
A new franchise in the annals of sci-fi history was born on this day in 1994 when MGM’s STARGATE premiered in theatres. The picture, budgeted at $55M, went on to gross nearly $200M (worldwide), and it gave co-creators Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich respectable clout to pursue further projects in Hollywood. Three notable TV series – STARGATE: SG-1, STARGATE: ATLANTIS, and STARGATE: UNIVERSE – helped further explore the characters and situations created in the original film. Auspicious birthdays include Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1955), SPACEBALLS’s Daphne Zuniga (1962), and DOCTOR WHO’s Matt Smith (1982).
Until next time, live long and prosper!