July 2017

Kiteworld by Keith Roberts (Italian edition)

The novel “Kiteworld” by Keith Roberts was published for the first time in 1985 by fixing-up some stories published previously.

The Badlands are watched by the Corps of the Observers, who uses Kites to address the possible dangers that might threaten the Realm. There are many legends about who or what lives in the Badlands and it’s difficult to understand what’s true about them. Airships patrol those areas but encounters with their inhabitants are rare.

According to the Church Variant, the Badlands are inhabited by demons and not conforming to the will of the priests constitutes a sin. The relationships between Kite Pilots and the Church Variant are not always easy and there are religious fundamentalist factions that make the situation more complicated.

In 1982, Keith Roberts published the short story “Kitemaster”, which won the British Science Fiction Award as the best short story of the year. It introduced Kiteworld and in subsequent years the author added other stories that he then fixed-up to form the novel “Kiteworld”.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2015

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger was born on July 30, 1947 in Thal, Austria. Driven by his father, Arnold Schwarzenegger started practicing various sports since his childhood and when he was 14 years old he started practicing bodybuilding but also powerlifting. After a few years he started winning titles in the field of bodybuilding up to the first of seven titles of Mr. Olympia in 1970.

After some roles in movie productions and in some TV shows, Arnold Schwarzenegger gained great success as the protagonist of the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian”. The film had a sequel in 1984, “Conan the Destroyer”. The great success was repeated again in 1984 playing the cyborg in the movie “Terminator” after director James Cameron initially cast him to interpret Kyle Reese. Despite the limited budget, success resulted in the creation of a franchise with various sequels and a TV show.

In 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger temporarily withdrew from the scenes when he won the California election becoming the state governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger changed the world of bodybuilding and with some iconic roles has become a big movie star. He has some movie projects under development, including reprising the role as Conan that has contributed so much to his fame.

Birgeria americana fossil (Image courtesy UZH)

An article published in the “Journal of Paleontology” describes the discovery of what might have been a top predator at the beginning of the Triassic period, between 252 and 247 million years ago. Named Birgeria americana, this fish was long probably less than 2 meters (about 6′) but after the great extinction of the end of the Permian it was perhaps at the apex of the food chain in its ecosystem.

Richard Dean Anderson in 2004

On July 27, 1997 the TV show “Stargate SG-1” made its debut.

In 1994, the movie “Stargate” was released, which was a box office success and also received some awards such as the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film but also received negative reviews. Personally, when I heard about it, I saw it as a variant of the story of the classic “Doctor Who” serial “Pyramids of Mars” and after watching it my impression was pretty negative.

Producer Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich initially conceived a trilogy but at the time nothing more was produced. The rights were given to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which decided to carry out the project differently by creating a TV show. Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner proposed different ideas and were commissioned to work together at the project that became “Stargate SG-1”.

The TV show begins a year after the events of the movie making it its direct continuation. Some of the protagonists are the same (though in the movie O’Neill has only one “l” in his surname) but played by different actors and in my opinion a positive element of the first episodes is a definite improvement in their characterization over the movie.

Artist's impression of the unknown hominin (Image courtesy Bob Wilder/University at Buffalo)

An article published in the journal “Molecular Biology and Evolution” describes a research that from a protein in human saliva showed that there were interbreedings between Homo sapiens and another unknown hominin species. A team of scientists conducted a study on the gene called MUC7, which encodes a mucin, a protein that determines some of the characteristics of human saliva and tracing its history found traces of these ancient interbreedings between hominins in Sub-Saharan Africa.