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The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes

on Wed, 10/22/2014 - 00:00

“It’s an interest of mine, how people react when they see an alien landscape,” explains poet/writer Mykol Ranglen. “All sorts of preconceptions and assumptions arise, and yet, for once, they’re facing something new, different… other.”

Ranglen is the main protagonist of author Albert Wendland’s novel The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes (Dog Star Books, 2014), a science fiction mystery centered on the search for a piece of ancient alien technology. Such “Clips”—short for Carrier-Locked Integrated Program—have been found in the past and paved the way for mankind’s ventures into the far-reaches of the universe. The Clips were hidden throughout the galaxy by the Airafane, an extinct race that fought a losing war against the Moyocks, who likewise no longer exist. The technology of the Clips are thus not just a legacy handed down by the Airafane but a means for future races to protect themselves against the likes of the Moyocks, and are worth a fortune to anyone who finds one.

Mykol Ranglen found the third Clip, although only a few people are aware of that fact, as well as the fourth—an even more guarded secret. Because of his ability to find these alien blueprints, the fiancé of Ranglen’s ex-girlfriend attempts to enlist his aid in the search for a fifth Clip. Henry Ciat and Mileen Oltrepi discovered a clue as to its location by accident and have set out, along with three others who were with them at the time, to find the Clip in question. Ranglen declines to assist them, but when Henry is later murdered and the whereabouts of Mileen unknown, he is dragged into the mystery nonetheless. Not only does Mykol Ranglen have to contend with the three remaining treasurer hunters but the law enforcement agents investigating Henry Ciat’s death, officials from multiple governments and a notorious mobster who is not above killing another human being simply to make a point.

The Intergalactic Nemesis

on Mon, 10/20/2014 - 00:00

The early-to-mid decades of the Twentieth Century are filled with nostalgia—especially in regards to Geek Culture—and numerous entertainment mediums can trace their “Golden Years” to the time period. The 1920s through the 1950s, for instance, is considered the Golden Age of Radio, when the audio medium dominated household activities around the country with an array of “live dramas” that contained an ample helping of science fiction. The 1950s, meanwhile, have earned the title of the “Golden Age of Science Fiction,” thanks to an abundance of sci-fi films and literature during the decade. Then there’s the “Golden Age of Comic Books,” which began with the appearance of Superman in 1938 and likewise extends into the 1950s.

Many contemporaries have been inspired by the works from these various “Golden Ages,” including the likes of George Lucas and Steve Spielberg, but arguably no one has been able to tie this disparate array of entertainment mediums and genres together in the same way that Jason Neulander has with The Intergalactic Nemesis. A “live-action graphic novel,” The Intergalactic Nemesis began life as a radio drama “performed” live at an Austin, Texas, coffee shop in 1996 before evolving into a comic book adaptation in 2009—paving the way for a multimedia version that includes three actors voicing all the characters, Foley-style sound effects and a series of large illustrated panels displayed above the stage. After an initial performance in 2010 that attracted 2,100 attendees, The Intergalactic Nemesis took its show on the road, appearing in 140 cities around the world as well as an upcoming engagement at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh on Friday, November 14, 2014.

Exploring Science Through Science Fiction

on Wed, 10/15/2014 - 00:00

Geek Culture has moved beyond the fringes during the Twenty First Century, into the realms of the general population and even infiltrating academia and higher education. The University of California – Irvine, for instance, offers a course on the “Science of Superheroes,” using Spider-Man, Superman and Wonder Woman as a way to understand the dynamics of physics. “Zombies in Popular Media,” meanwhile, is part of the curriculum at Columbia College in Chicago, and explores how the “living dead” relate to such topics as capitalism, individuality and xenophobia. Then there’s Barry Luokkala, a teaching professor in the Physics Department of Carnegie Mellon University, who uses science fiction to explore Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Newton’s Laws of Motion and the very nature of the universe. What started as a mini-course consisting of six classes over the course of a half-semester exclusively offered to first-year science majors eventually evolved into a full-fledged class open to any and all curriculums.

“To my great delight, I got everybody,” Luokkala explained during the 2013 edition of Confluence, a Pittsburgh-based science fiction convention. “I got people from drama and music and art and history and English and business as well as computer science and biology and math and physics, which was the crowd I was used to having. So it was tremendously successful and the evaluations were everything that I hoped for. They said this made science accessible to them, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do—to create a course that could make non-technical people excited about exploring science.”