Choose Your Own R. A. Montgomery Tribute

space and beyondWhat was your favorite Choose Your Own Adventure story?

Choose Your Own Adventure author and publisher R. A. Montgomery has died, leaving happy reading memories for readers around the world.

The beloved series from the 1980s helped millions of kids explore science fiction, fantasy and adventure stories.

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Inter-Dimensional Travel

dimensionalWhat would a spacecraft look like that could travel through both time and space?

Contact In The Desert’ was a four-day conference in Joshua Tree last summer.

It brought together experts from around the world to explore “ancient astronauts, extra-terrestrials, human origins, crop circles, UFO sightings, contact experiences and the need to know.”

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Video Game Marriage Proposal

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What if you could propose to your lover while exploring the universe in a spaceship?

One Reddit reader proposed to his girlfriend using a ring-shaped ship inside the indie starship video game, FTL: Faster Than Light.

The dedicated gamer built an entire patch for the video game, making the proposal part of his girlfriend’s gaming experience. His heartwarming proposal illustrates how true love can be exactly like an interstellar space battle.

His girlfriend opened the game and discovered a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style set of options.

You boarded my heart and went straight for the shields. And then the life-support. And then the weapons. And then the shields. Oh wait, I said shields already. Anyway, I love you. Will you marry me?

The designer built in options for both “yes” and “no,” but this game had a happy ending:

Sorry for the wait. She said yes =) And then she went back through and tried all the other options.

You can see all the images from the video game at this link.

James Joyce in Space

stars23What do you think about when you look at the stars in the night sky?

Today is June 16, the day fans of novelist James Joyce celebrate “Bloomsday“–the fictional date when Leopold Bloom wandered around Dublin in Joyce’s most famous novel, Ulysses.

Joyce never wrote science fiction, but he wrote some gorgeous descriptions of the cosmos.

To celebrate Bloomsday, you should download a free eBook copy of Ulysses. In that book, Bloom stares up at the night sky, seeing “The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”

Joyce followed that sentence with one of the loveliest descriptions of space and time I’ve ever read:

Meditations of evolution increasingly vaster: of the moon invisible in incipient lunation, approaching perigee: of the infinite lattiginous scintillating uncondensed milky way, discernible by daylight by an observer placed at the lower end of a cylindrical vertical shaft 5000 ft deep sunk from the surface towards the centre of the earth: of Sirius (alpha in Canis Maior) 10 lightyears (57,000,000,000,000 miles) distant and in volume 900 times the dimension of our planet: of Arcturus: of the precession of equinoxes: of Orion with belt and sextuple sun theta and nebula in which 100 of our solar systems could be contained: of moribund and of nascent new stars such as Nova in 1901: of our system plunging towards the constellation of Hercules: of the parallax or parallactic drift of socalled fixed stars, in reality evermoving wanderers from immeasurably remote eons to infinitely remote futures in comparison with which the years, threescore and ten, of allotted human life formed a parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity.

Joyce followed with a meditation on life at the smallest scale, a cosmic counterpoint:

Of the eons of geological periods recorded in the stratifications of the earth: of the myriad minute entomological organic existences concealed in cavities of the earth, beneath removable stones, in hives and mounds, of microbes, germs, bacteria, bacilli, spermatozoa: of the incalculable trillions of billions of millions of imperceptible molecules contained by cohesion of molecular affinity in a single pinhead: of the universe of human serum constellated with red and white bodies, themselves universes of void space constellated with other bodies, each, in continuity, its universe of divisible component bodies of which each was again divisible in divisions of redivisible component bodies, dividends and divisors ever diminishing without actual division till, if the progress were carried far enough, nought nowhere was never reached.

One-Act Science Fiction

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Is it possible to tell science fiction stories without computer-generated effects and blockbuster movie budgets?

The First Annual Los Angeles Science Fiction One-Act Play Festival answered that question perfectly, staging a series of short speculative fiction stories onstage at the Acme Theater.

The dialogue reminded me of the classic science fiction radio plays, but the creators spiced up the stories with multimedia material, mind-bending light and sound work, simple props and a team of great actors.

KCRW’s Which Way, LA? blog described how the show came about:

The idea came to actor David Dean Bottrell (“Boston Legal,” “And the Band Played On”) a few years back, after he’d read a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin: How about a festival of science fiction-themed stage plays? … When he opened up the idea, he was deluged with submissions from writers, as well as from performers eager to participate. Further affirmation came on Kickstarter, where he raised over $80,000 to support the concept.

The show last night ended with “Kaleidoscope” by Ray Bradbury, a short story about astronauts stranded in space. More than 60 years before Gravity, this story chilled audiences with the primal battle for survival in outer space.

The play adaptation literally stuck the audience in the middle of a spacecraft disaster. We saw what the great author wrote back in 1951, exposing the raw power and danger of space:

Hollis looked to see, but saw nothing. There were only the great diamonds and sapphires and emerald mists and velvet inks of space, with God’s voice mingling among the crystal fires.

Visit the festival website for ticket information. The festival also has a special NERD RUSH option: “Just show up at the box office and if there are seats available, you can get in for $15. Early arrival is highly recommended.”

You can also listen to the KCRW report on the festival at the link below…