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John Billingsley stays busy in sci-fi after Star Trek Enterprise

Dr. Phlox Plus, John Billingsley continues to play the good guys and the bad smart sci-fi guys.

John Billingsley was a prolific actor long before he landed the role of Dr Phlox on Star Trek Enterprise. And it was extremely busy since the show ceased airing. But it’s as the endlessly curious and optimistic NX-01 good-natured Denobulian medical officer that Star Trek fans know him best.

In a 2019 interview with TrekToday, Billingsley expressed affection for the character (but not the “rubber head” required role). “Considering how many creeps and crumbs I’ve played in my life,” he said, “being able to portray a guy who was so dynamic and balanced, was such a treat.”

John Billingsley credits after Star Trek Enterprise are plentiful, and they include some notable forays into science fiction, fantasy, and horror. His “long road” out of the 22nd century has even led him, on a few occasions, to meet other familiar faces from the Star Trek franchise.

Here’s a quick look at John Billingsley’s resume in Speculative Stories After Enterprise.

John Billingsley plays several professors and scientists in post-Star Trek science fiction

John Billingsley’s first postBusiness genre credit is his role as Harry, professor of biology, in Earth man (2007). Harry is one of the many colleagues of the named John Oldman, who claims to be a caveman living for some 14,000 years and who has been an important person in history along the way.

In the trailer for the film, Harry speculates on how a biological quirk might allow this possibility.

It is not a coincidence Earth man may remind Star Trek fans of “Requiem for Methuselah,” which shares a similar premise. Jerome Bixby wrote both. He also wrote “Mirror, Mirror”, “By Any Other Name” and “Day of the Dove” for the original series; and the short story that has become the classic fuzzy area episode “It’s a good life.”

Earth man was Bixby’s last story, written and dictated from his deathbed. Winner of several film festival awards, he continues to be well regarded. A decade later, Billingsley reprized his role as Harry in what was to be the first of several sequels, Man from Earth: Holocene. To date, however, this franchise has not proven to be as immortal as its main character.

In 2009, Billingsley appeared as another professor, Professor West, in Roland Emmerich’s disaster film. 2012. The film capitalized on pop culture’s fascination with the ancient Mayan calendar by posing solar flares that would trigger catastrophic natural disasters on earth.

In the years that followed, most of Billingsley’s genre credits were in TV series roles, although he appeared with Star Trek alumna Denise Crosby in the 2016 Haunted House TV movie. . The watcher, and this year A boy makes a girl: Memoirs of a robot.

In the short-lived action drama Intelligence (2014), Billingsley played Dr. Shenendoah Cassidy, a neuroscientist and computer scientist who invents a microchip that allows government agent Gabriel Vaughn (Josh Holloway) to interface with any electronic device. About his character, Billingsley told Syfy Wire:

[Cassidy] is a man of science and a man who is mainly interested in the advancement of our civilization, who agreed to work for the Ministry of Defense. . . . Sometimes he feels like his innovations are being used in a morally questionable way. . . . [O]One of the underlying tensions is this struggle that Cassidy. . . is constantly undergoing.

Billingsley has joined his next sci-fi series, Staplers (2015-2017), in its second season. He had a recurring role as Mitchell Blair, an NSA executive with “icy intent and deadly ideas” on how to use the techniques of infiltration of mind and memory at the heart of the premise. from the Serie.

John Billingsley has also appeared in two projects with several fellow Trek veterans. Naturally, he has a role in the Star Trek parody of Snoop Dogg. Unbelievable! And he joined Doug Jones, Terry Farrell, the late René Auberjonois, Ethan Phillips, Robert Beltran, Armin Shimerman, Tim Russ, JG Hertzler and Robert O’Reilly in the cast of The circuit: Star Crew (2019). The Twitter account of the still unpublished film thus characterizes the project:

In that 2014 interview with Syfy, Billingsley said, “I’m a working character actor. . . . I think people feel that we have the luxury of choosing. I do not . . . . So we audition. And it’s concert after concert after concert. . . . “

Although John Billingsley doesn’t think he can choose, the fans who know and love him the best since Star Trek Enterprise can’t help but hope that many more of these auditions and gigs will lead him into the sci-fi and fantasy genres!



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Black holes are no longer science fiction. Jens Boos says it’s time to take them seriously

  • Maybe not:

    The left black hole conforms to Einstein’s theory of gravity. It has a singularity, and that singularity, just like a needle, tears a hole in space-time. The right black hole according to a new theory of gravity where the singularity needle is softened and space-time is safe.
    Graphic by Jens Boos

by Joseph McClain

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September 28, 2021

Jens Boos is a black hole guy, and has been a black hole guy ever since he started studying physics in his native Germany.

“The good thing about black holes is that they were the subject of science fiction novels,” he said. “These mysterious objects in space. Once you have fallen into it, you cannot get out of it. Yadda yadda. We’ve all heard the stories.

Today, Boos is a post-doctoral researcher in the High Energy Theory group of the physics department of William & Mary. He recently received the 2021 PR Wallace Thesis Prize from the Canadian Association of Theoretical Physics (Division of Theoretical Physics) and the Winnipeg Institute for Theoretical Physics. The prize rewards his doctoral thesis “Effects of Non-locality in Gravity and Quantum Theory”.

The black hole specialist’s career as a physicist grew as black holes moved from the “theoretical” column to the “observed” column in the register of natural phenomena. In 2015, while Boos was a graduate student at the Perimeter Institute in Canada, the LIGO collaboration announced the detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. The Event Horizon Telescope Array documented its first black hole in 2019, while a graduate student at the University of Alberta.

“But now there is a huge problem, isn’t there?” Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity predicts the existence of black holes, and now they have been observed, ”said Boos. “It’s fantastic, but it also means you have to take them more seriously. “

Jens Boos: Postdoc in theoretical physics and black hole guy.  (Photo by Stephen Salpukas)Boos and other theoretical astrophysicists take black holes seriously, very seriously. They are working on potential explanations of the physics inside a black hole. The edge of a black hole is known as the event horizon, and inside the black hole, Boos explained, is something called a singularity. But it’s a bit problematic to refer to a singularity as a “thing”.

“It’s a place in space and time where something bad is happening,” Boos explained. “This is where space and time cease to exist. This is how I like to think. “

He explains that physicists consider space and time as one concept: space-time. “Those four digits, latitude, longitude and altitude, then the time on the clock – the combination of those digits makes up space-time,” Boos said.

Space-time is at the heart of causality itself, Boos writes in his summary, enabling us to “distinguish past from future, and cause from effect.”

In short, the rules of space-time. Except when and where it doesn’t work, like the singularity inside a black hole. Mathematically, Einstein’s theory describes gravity as the curvature of space-time. For example, massive bodies orbiting a star are not actually attracted by a gravitational force: they roll in a curved and tilted gravitational field.

“And what happens at the singularity is that the slope becomes infinitely steep. Not big, but really infinite, ”said Boos. “And we physicists think it’s not physical at all. How can something really be infinite?

He explained that “infinity” is a common bugaboo for physicists. Infinity has never been observed and may not even exist in the physical world. Boos said that the mathematics in many theories of physics leads to infinity and that theorists are working hard to refine the theories in order to remove this problem.

“People think that these infinities inside black holes, these singularities, are just an artifact of Einstein’s theory,” Boos said. “Einstein’s theory might be incomplete. It’s a classic theory; he does not know the quantum.

Boos said that he and many other theorists believed that a fully realized theory of quantum gravity would solve the problem of infinity.

“The problem is not so much to find a theory of quantum gravity, there are several promising candidate theories that people have come up with,” he said. “But you have to think of a way to test them experimentally.”

Boos’ thesis suggests a potential way around the singularity-infinity paradox. Instead of inventing an entirely new theory, he focuses on a concept called “non-locality”.

“The laws of physics that we know of, almost all of them are local laws of physics,” he explained. “This means that if you want to predict what is happening at any given time and in space, all you need to know is what is happening now or at some point in the past. If you see waves in a pond, for example, you know someone has thrown a stone. That sort of thing. But when you have the non-locality, it can all be very different.

He went on to explain that the concept of non-locality had been part of physical theory for some time. “People were talking about non-locality in the 1930s,” he noted. At a basic level, Boos said that non-locality means conceptualizing a state in which you can no longer distinguish two neighboring points.

Boos approaches non-locality through what he calls “mathematical sandpaper,” drawing on mathematical concepts such as Green’s functions and incorporating elements of string theory and non-geometry. commutative.

“Non-locality takes away all the sharp angles, doesn’t it?” ” he said. “It makes everything smoother. And that’s the idea. If you take the idea of ​​a singularity like an infinitely sharp needle piercing a hole in spacetime, you could take your mathematical sandpaper and make it duller. It would still be sharp – but not infinitely sharp. But that’s all we want. We don’t want infinity, and space-time will be safe.

At William & Mary, he also applies the concept of non-locality to particle physics, in collaboration with another theoretical physicist, Professor Chris Carone.

“What I love about non-locality is that it challenges the way we think about space and time, in many different areas of physics – not just gravity. It really keeps you going. on your guard! ”said Boos.


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Manawatū author wins top sci-fi award with pandemic novel

Dr Laura Jean McKay is the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

David Unwin / Tips

Dr Laura Jean McKay is the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

Manawatū author Dr Laura Jean McKay became the first New Zealand author to win the Arthur C. Clarke Prize, one of the world’s top science fiction awards.

McKay said it was a tremendous honor to receive the award, which recognizes the best science fiction novel first published in the UK each year.

His first novel, The animals of this country, had previously been recognized in Australia, winning the 2021 Victorian Prize for Literature and the Sunday Times Book of The Year. Despite her success in Australia, McKay said she didn’t expect it to spread to the UK.

McKay is from Australia but moved to New Zealand to take up a post at Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Dr Laura Jean McKay has joined Margaret Atwood as the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

David Unwin / Tips

Dr Laura Jean McKay has joined Margaret Atwood as the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Prize.

She described the book both as a realistic, grainy novel about a struggling middle-aged woman and as a “speculative science fiction novel where animals can talk.”

The book was published at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and features its own themes related to the pandemic – a virus that gives infected humans the ability to understand animals.

The sudden importance of pandemics was initially a concern for McKay.

“I was really worried because so many people were in pain, and I didn’t want to portray it in the wrong way,” Mckay said.

However, she was happy that she was able to write a book that people enjoyed and that they could relate to during difficult times.

“I wrote The animals of this country examine closely the relationships between humans and other animals. In these strange times, I find that, more than ever, reading and writing also connects us humans.

Dr Laura McKay with her first novel is The Animals in That Country.

Provided / Content

Dr Laura McKay with her first novel is The Animals in That Country.

Previous award winners include Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale), Emily St John Mandel (Eleven station) and Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad).

Joining Atwood as the Arthur C. Clarke winner was especially special for McKay.

“Twenty years before Margaret Atwood won the first Arthur C. Clarke Prize, she published a small but important collection of poetry entitled The animals of this country, a title I borrowed for my book.

“That this book can become one of the Clarke Prize winners alongside Atwood – as well as other writers I adore like Miéville and Whitehead – is a tremendous honor.”

Arthur C. Clarke Award director Tom Hunter has said McKay’s novel pushes the boundaries of sci-fi writing.

“For 35 years, the Clarke Award has promoted not only the best of science fiction, but also new ways to define and explore it. Laura’s victory once again re-positions the boundaries of sci-fi, and we’re excited to welcome her to the genre.

McKay said working on his next book has been slow, however, it was good to have something in mind to work on, especially during the pandemic.


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Let science fiction be weird again

Science fiction art. Illustrated | iStock

When politics or the economy don’t give much cause for celebration, Americans turn to the screen. The 1930s demanded effervescent shows that made us laugh during the Depression. The 1970s gave rise to a new genre of thriller that reflected the paranoia of the post-Vietnamese era. The last few decades have seen an explosion of science fiction and fantasy. With the shrinking audience for adult dramas, superheroes, spaceships, and monsters reign supreme.

This change helps explain the buzz surrounding two releases this fall. Dune is the first installment in a third attempt at Frank Herbert’s classic novel, which has already been shot once as a feature film and once as a TV miniseries. Matrix resurrections is the fourth installment in a franchise that helped start the trend.

There’s one catch, though: both movies look terrible. It’s not entirely fair to judge by the previews, but the directors’ other work suggests that they will be technically accomplished, extremely loud, deeply serious, and utterly boring.

The material is not the problem. Often ridiculed as children’s stuff, imaginative genres help us think through situations and aesthetics that would otherwise seem ridiculous. Like musicals, another genre that has seen a recent renaissance, science fiction is not bound by the laws of physics or logic. This is an area worth exploring, rather than dismissing it.

Instead, the problem lies in transforming sci-fi and its cousins ​​into the kind of seamless tailoring they were once pitted against. Once the genre where anything could happen, science fiction now tends towards high budget, high technique, and infinitely low risk. The result has all of the genre’s flaws, including flat characterization and absurd dialogue, with few rewards.

In the 1960s, the critic Manny Farber described the tension as a contrast between the art of the “white elephant” and that of the “termites”. The “white elephant” represents consistency. Each image, sound and performance is meant to adapt, producing a work comparable to the masterpieces of 19th century European painting and literature. It is easy to find these qualities in the mid-range prestige dramas. But Farber also finds them in the fashionable authors of the time, like François Truffaut, whose apparently unconventional style hid a mania for order.

The art of termites escapes this kind of control. Whether it’s because it’s produced cheaply, the actors cash in, or the challenges are beyond the director’s technical capabilities, “” The art of termites-tapeworms-mushroom-moss, “Farber explained,” is always going forward by eating its own limits, and, like no, leaves nothing in its path other than signs of greedy, industrious, and neglected activity. “As the name suggests, termite art always risks collapsing under its own weight.

Farber’s defense of chaotic, incompetence and quirk was part of the then-controversial appreciation of B-movies and genre films he shared with critics like Pauline Kael. But it also explains how economic and technological changes have sucked the lives of the kinds where termites once thrived.

Take the new one Dune. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, who has directed a series of acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy productions, it’s kind of a revamp of David Lynch’s 1984 version. While producers expected a rival Star wars, Lynch set in an epic of strangeness that combined elements of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed production a decade earlier with Lynch’s own distinctive vision. Released in a redacted version that the director disowned, the film is both an economic and a critical disaster.

Longer cuts released later solve some of the exposure and structure issues. Even without these changes, however, Lynch Dune is an unintentional masterpiece of termite art. Much of the cast doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of their lines – or even what movie they’re in. It’s perfect, however, for a film that deals in part with the line between reality and dreams – a line blurred by the copious consumption of characters. hallucinogenic “spice”. Like other Lynch films, Dune works better as an experience than as a story.

Lynch also created an aesthetic that increases audience discomfort (in a good way). The sets, costumes, and makeup effects of the mutated characters were unusual in their ability to convince audiences that the action is set in a world that is not our own. This includes deviations from the source material, which angered some fans. In Lynch’s versions, the evil Harkonnen clan seems to subsist on a bloody purple juice that runs through the veins of their minions. It wasn’t in the source material, among other departures, that angered fans. Regardless, it’s deliciously weird.

At least in the trailers, the new Dune does not promise any of these qualities. Monumental, gritty and obsessively faithful to Herbert’s Byzantine plot, it is the coherent synthesis of form and matter that Lynch was unable to deliver. For this reason, however, it has little to offer anyone who isn’t already committed to the premise. The first critics express their disappointment at this “opera with lifeless spices” on “a comical and massive scale”.

The matrix, on the other hand, has always been the art of the white elephant. The 1999 original was applauded for a premise borrowed from the dorm philosophy and a sleek look influenced by Hong Kong video games and action films. These very qualities, however, left her airless, as every scene and shot was stylized into something that approached abstraction.

by Lynch Dune can be compared to termites trying to make their way out of the towering but fragile structures that contain them. Watching The matrix it is like being dragged into a chamber of sensory deprivation. This is not incompatible with the Gnostic vanity that animates the plot, but creates an exhausting but paradoxically forgettable experience. Most memorable is Hugo Weaving’s termite performance as Agent Smith, one of the only hints of humor in the otherwise dismal business.

Directors aren’t entirely to blame for the burgeoning white elephant trends, which are exacerbated by the expectation of endless sequels and spinoffs. In addition to huge budgets that make it harder to justify creative experiences, technological improvements offer a level of aesthetic control that eluded filmmakers of the past. The flaws of the elephant’s handwriting, argues Farber, are attempts to “1) frame the action with an overarching motif, 2) situate every event, character, situation in a frieze of continuities, and 3) treat every event. centimeter from the screen … as a potential area for award-winning creativity. ”In addition to the economic incentives to start a franchise, green screens, digital footage and post-production manipulation make these sins hard to resist.

But impressive shots, top-notch castings, and a cohesive artistic vision come at the expense of bewildering qualities that once bestowed improbable power in science fiction. In Lipstick traces, a volume best described as a spiritual punk rock story, critic Greil Marcus harnesses the ephemera of pop culture to find clues to the mess and violence that lurk beneath the surface of modern life. Among other examples, he unearths Quatermass and the pit (released in the United States under the name Five million years on Earth), a 1967 British film that has something to do with the Martians who colonized Earth in the distant past. He describes watching with genuine horror as the plot culminates in sheer, uncontrollable anarchy that escapes both the narrative and technical limits of low-budget production.

Moments like this, where the film’s stuffing bursts out of its own constraints, revealing more than its creators ever intended, are rare in today’s technically accomplished, deeply serious, and utterly boring shows. Termites survive in duds, bombs and forgotten unique pieces like Dark city (1998), which combines elements that foreshadow The matrix with themes of Five million years on Earth. The big exception is the unexpected superb Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), who managed to preserve the gonzo energy of its predecessor from the white elephant temptations of modern budget and technology. Hopefully the next prequel doesn’t spoil that too.

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