What’s up with China? What do Ursula K. Le Guin and Carrie Fisher have in common? And can’t anyone working at the post office see the future? These questions and more will finally be answered now that “This Week in Science Fiction” is here! Get ready for another installment of the peoples, places, and events that inspire! So say we all!
On this day in 2003, the People’s Republic of China became only the third nation to operate manned space flights when they launched Shenzhou 5 into orbit. Astronaut Yang Liwei spent over ninety minutes in the heavens before returning to Earth. On TV in 2010, Syfy’s SANCTUARY began its third season. Auspicious birthdays include sci-fi author James Henry Schmitz (1911), SUPERMAN movie scribe Mario Puzo (1920), and STAR TREK’s Mark Lenard (1924).
In 1923, the Disney Company was founded under the name ‘Disney Brothers Cartoon Company.’ In 1957, the United States Air Force sent two aluminum bullets into space to measure the possible effects of radiation. And, in 1964, China became the world’s fifth nuclear power. Auspicious birthdays include WAR GAMES’s Barry Corbin (1940) and WAR OF THE WORLDS’s Timothy Robbins (1958).
FARSCAPE fans were finally rewarded with what they so much wanted when, on this day in 2004, FARSCAPE: THE PEACEKEEPER WARS premiered. The four hour miniseries promised to deliver fans a suitable conclusion to the massive cliffhanger left when SyFy cancelled the program halfway during its fourth season. Auspicious birthdays include SUPERMAN creator Jerry Siegel (1914) and SUPERMAN’s movie sweetheart Margot Kidder (1948).
I, for one, wasn’t quite sold on SyFy’s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA miniseries. You know the one? Cylons were now semi-human. Starbuck was a girl. No daggetts to speak of. Anyway, when I saw it on DVD, I thought it played much better than when it aired, mostly because the lack of broadcast commercials gave it a much better pace. However, when the show aired its first series episode (the stellar “33”) on this day in 2004, I was convinced Ronald Moore and company had conceived a winner. Auspicious birthdays include UK sci-fi author Katherine Kurtz (1944), EUREKA’s Joe Morton (1947), and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER’s Jean-Claude Van Damme (1960).
In 1914, the U.S. postal service stepped up and used its first automobile to collect and deliver mail. In 1953, T.W.A. scheduled the first nonstop transcontinental jet service between Los Angeles and New York. Auspicious birthdays include HARRY POTTER’s Michael Gambon (1940), RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’s John Lithgow (1945), and IRON MAN director Jon Favreau (1966).
The 49th Parallel was established as a border between the U.S. & Canada, forever enslaving our brothers and sisters behind the Maple Curtain. 1955 saw the publication of “The Return of the King,” the final installment in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. And, in 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin emerged from the Klamath River outside Orleans, California, with film footage of what they claimed was Bigfoot; over four decades later, skeptics still aren’t convinced. One of my personal favorite sci-fi sleepers, THE HIDDEN, premiered in cinemas back in 1987. Auspicious birthdays include DRACULA himself Bela Lugosi (1882), SPACE: 1999’s Martin Landau (1934), fantasy author Lynn Flewelling (1958), and BEING HUMAN’s Sam Witmer (1977).
A recipient of five Hugo and six Nebula Awards, prolific sci-fi and fantasy novelist Ursula K. Le Guin was born on this day in 1929. With dozens of works to her name, she credits Rudyard Kipling, Isaac Asimov, and Theodore Sturgeon among her inspirations. And the woman (nay, “babe”) who put metal bikinis into public consciousness with her dead-sexy turn in RETURN OF THE JEDI, Carrie Fisher celebrates her 1956 entry to the world. In 1983, Christopher Walken first entered Stephen King’s THE DEAD ZONE in theatres. Other auspicious birthdays include sci-fi author Edmond Hamilton and CAPRICA’s Sasha Roiz.
Until next time, live long and prosper!