The proof is everywhere: science fiction is a medium that ultimately fuels our collective imagination. In that spirit, here’s another installment celebrating the peoples, places, and events pushing us to keep our feet on the ground but our eyes pointing toward the heavens.
On this day in 1937, famed aviator Amelia Earhart disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, only to turn up centuries later in the Delta Quadrant compliments of “Star Trek: Voyager.” Arnold said he’d be back, but the critical notices for TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES weren’t all that grand. Maybe he should’ve stayed away a bit longer? In either case, the third installment appeared on silver screens in 2003.
Arnold said he’d be back (déjà vu?), and the first time he returned it was well worth it. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY exploded into cinemas in 1991, giving James Cameron the chance to further his legacy in the field of science fiction. Back in 1996, Will Smith proved he could be a serious box-office draw in Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY, which was essentially a riff on the ever-popular ‘War of the Worlds’ storyline.
All the way back on this day in the year 1054, the Crab Nebula – the brightest known super-nova – started shining its wondrous light. In 1997, internet junkies were able to view the first ever photos from the surface of Mars, transmitted by the Sojourner robot. Auspicious birthdays include Rohan Nichol (1976), who played Capt. Raymus Antilles in STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH. Was he the infamous ‘Captain Antilles’ first alluded to in the 1977 classic, STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE? Methinks so.
Love him or hate him, producer Ronald D. Moore – born on this day in 1964 – has certainly left an imprint on science fiction. He helped shape the next generation of STAR TREK on television; he rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” and was showered with media praise; and he helped get such programs as “Roswell,” “Carnivàle,” and the underrated “Good vs Evil” off the ground. Another auspicious birthday is STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE’s ‘Porkins’ himself, William Hootkins (1948).
In 1990, THE JETSONS: THE MOVIE graced cineplexes across the great nation, requiring the invention of ‘mind bleach’ to erase that singular event from our memories. Auspicious birthdays include Batman’s first Robin, actor Burt Ward, born in 1945; and composer John Ottman (1964). And the original DEMOLITION MAN himself, Sylvester Stallone, was born on this day in 1946.
The list of great sci-fi authors doesn’t get more distinguished than Robert A. Heinlein (1907). Often referred to as ‘the dean of science fiction,’ Heinlein was responsible for such stellar works as Starship Troopers, Double Star, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His themes are timeless, and his prose is exemplary. Auspicious birthdays include John Pertwee (1919), better known as the third incarnation of “Doctor Who,” and character actor Billy Campbell (1959), of THE ROCKETEER and TV’s “The 4400” fame.
On this day in 1978, the Pioneer-Venus 2 probe launched toward Venus; one year later, Voyager 2 took the first ever photos of Jupiter’s satellite Adrastea (J14). Auspicious birthdays include Milo Ventimiglia (1977), who first came to prominence on NBC TV’s “Heroes”; and Eve Myles (1978), better known as Gwen Cooper on the BBC’s “Torchwood” program.