On The Death of a Science Fiction Icon: A Celebration of David Bowie’s Life and Legacy

One of the greats is gone: David Bowie died on January 10, 2016. He left behind a legacy of brilliant music, groundbreaking films, and enormous contributions to the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

From his breakout hit “A Space Oddity” to his iconic concept album and persona Ziggy Stardust, and on to his Orwell-inspired masterpiece “Diamond Dogs” and beyond, his musical career, spanning nearly 50 years, defined science fiction rock and roll.

His acting performances – in “Labyrinth”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, “The Hunger”, “The Image”, and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (to name but a few) – mirrored the ethereal nature of his cosmic rock.

And the field of science fiction and fantasy returned the favor: as Smithsonian Magazine explains, Bowie inspired a number of characters in the genre we love so well.

In the Sandman comic book series, writer Neil Gaiman specifically based the character of Lucifer on the singer, while Batman scribe Grant Morrison later admitted to basing his version of the Joker on Bowie’s ’80s persona… Recently, the television series The Venture Brothers cast the leader of a massive super organization of super villains as a shapeshifter so inspired by Bowie that he took on the singer’s appearance.

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Science Fiction Technologies that People are Hoping for in Their Lifetime

I asked people from Facebook, reddit, and the meta.scifi.stackexchange.com what science fiction technologies they really wanted to see within their lifetime that they believed were achievable. Immediately some people forgot about that last little requirement, but that is okay. The few who gave estimates were in the 25-50 years time-frame. Few people explained why they wanted a certain technology, so I had to infer their intentions using wit and cynicism.

Space Travel – We gotta get off this rock.

  • Mars Mission / Colony – You’d think 45 years after landing on the moon we’d already be permanently stationed there and going to Mars. What happened to our future?
  • Cheap Access to Space – Why only rape the Earth of its natural resources? There is a whole Solar System out there, people.
  • Asteroid Mining – I’m looking to get my hands on the literal Silicon Valley.
  • Space Elevator – It’s what Michael Scott called ‘the big ride’ in The Office (S1:E3)
  • Anti-Gravity – America’s solution to morbid obesity.
  • Interstellar Spaceflight – Once the Solar System is ours, the whole universe will be ours.
  • Worm Hole Generator – Find out just how terrible living in the movie The Event Horizon would really be.

The thing I like about space travel is most of this stuff doesn’t sound like science fiction, it is just a matter of investing billions (or trillions) and hoping it pays off.

Advanced Computers – Life is too boring.

  • Artificial Intelligence – The supporters were keen to mention it would be a ‘friendly’ A.I.
  • Iron Man’s (or Mass Effect’s) Holographic Computer Interfaces – I hate physical contact with everything, even computers.
  • Virtual reality – Finally, the ability to commit murder using all 5 senses instead of the 2 you get from today’s limiting video games.
  • Artificial Artist – I’m not really sure what this is, but I guess we could finally free up all those starving artists out there so they can do something they truly love.
  • Sex Bots – I have nothing to say.

We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make killer robot police? – Dave Barry. Don’t worry Dave, we are totally going to make them friendly.

Healthcare – What I like to call ‘fear of death.’

  • Starship Trooper’s Full Integrated Prognostics – Cyborgs of the future unite.
  • Full Body Regeneration – The K12 from Better Off Dead just made my bucket list.
  • Star Trek Medical Tricorder – This device can tell you when you are going to die, but modern science can’t do anything about it.
  • Elysium’s Health Care – All conditions can be diagnosed and treated; eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will be cured.
  • Mind Uploading – Transcendence and Lawn Mower Man are apparently not cautionary tales.

Death isn’t so scary if you believe we’ll have technology to talk to the dead later (see The Insane).

Transportation – When I travel, I want it to be exciting.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Hoverboard – Because skateboards need to be more dangerous.
  • Jet Pack – I’m pretty sure Budget has already mastered this.
  • Flying Car – Because everyone is good enough to become ace pilots.
  • Self Driving Car – I promise not to crash if you wash me regularly.

There are two kinds of people, those who believe traveling is too dangerous, and those who believe it isn’t dangerous enough.

Manufacturing – We hate blue collar jobs.

  • Replicators – Say goodbye to even the premise of a healthy diet.
  • Nano Tech – Big projects just need lots of little solutions.

Energy – Save the planet.

  • Back to the Future 2’s Mr. Fusion

Only one person mentioned cheap clean energy. Personally, I see that as the technology that allows for all the other stuff. A new abundant energy source means we can finally build autonomous robots, and then we can upload our brains into them and live forever. With everlasting life, traditional space travel just becomes an exercise in not being bored, cue the virtual reality (which will be easy, since we are robots). Everything falls into place when we get a Mr. Fusion or a Tony Stark miniaturized Arc Reactor.

The Insane

  • Talking to the Dead – That’s a technology? Okay.
  • Pleasure Gun – I have nothing to say.
  • Bender Robots – I guess a robot would have to be crazy to wanna be a folk singer…

Amazon Kindle now servicing over 11,000 public libraries

Have you ever wanted to read a scifi or fantasy novel someone recommended to you, but didn’t want to pay for it? Or you wanted to see if it was good before making the purchase?

You would normally go to a library and see if it was available and then check it out. At least, that’s what we used to do before the internet.

Lately libraries have started to wane with their patron numbers largely due to online stores and ease of access to other, digital, means. Amazon (our favorite online shopping conglomerate), who produces the ever popular Kindle (and all the related mobile/desktop apps) has just agreed to allow wireless transfer of available ebooks from local libraries to patron’s Kindle or mobile device.

The only requirements for this amazing free feature: you need a library card from the participating public library, and an Kindle account (which is free).

The service is quite simple. You get your library card, and go to the library’s online establishment and sign up with the preferred eBook service (my library here in Kansas City uses OverDrive. William Gibson would be so proud!). You then enter your library card number and it will take you to the virtual library. You then find your selection and select “Send to Kindle” which will prompt you to sign into Amazon.com. Then you will have the book sent to the device and available to read for however long the standard checkout time is at your library.

Hopefully, through this program, libraries will start to see more and more customers checking out books and enjoying the vast amounts of free information available to them.

To see if your local library is participating, click here and enter your zipcode (if you reside in the USA).