June 2018

Harlan Ellison address fans at Minicon 41 (photo ┬ęDavid Dyer-Bennet)

The news came of the death of writer and screenwriter Harlan Ellison: the cause hasn’t been released but he died yesterday in his sleep.

Harlan Ellison’s character was certainly not easy but behind his disputes there was an artist who worked in various ways, sometimes not easy to notice immediately. He wrote very few novels so his visibility has always been lesser than that of many colleagues and the fact that he became famous and appreciated for the courage of his works says a lot about his importance in the field of science fiction.

Doctor Who - The Underwater Menace

“The Underwater Menace” is an adventure of the fourth season of “Doctor Who” classic series, which aired in 1967. It’s a four parts adventure written by Geoffrey Orme and directed by Julia Smith.

The Tardis materializes on Earth and the Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton), Jamie (Frazer Hines), Ben (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) go out to explore what looks like a deserted volcanic island. However, the nearby caves are inhabited and the travelers are immediately captured.

The local inhabitants are the survivors of Atlantis and their high priest decides to sacrifice the travelers to their god Amdo. They receive one last meal but the Doctor realizes that it must have been prepared by Professor Zaroff, a scientist whose traces were lost. In fact, Zaroff is working on a plan that can have terrible consequences for the whole world.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

The novel “Ancillary Justice” by Ann Leckie was published for the first time in 2013. It’s the first book in the Imperial Radch series. It won the prizes Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, Locus and Seiun as best novel of the year and the Kitschies Golden Tentacle as best debut novel of the year.

Breq has been following her plan for almost twenty years when she runs into Seivarden Vendaai, a Radchaai officer she knew a millennium ago, lying into the snow. It’s not her job to take care of her but she decides to rescue her and ends up taking her with her on her return journey to the Radch, involving her in her search for justice.

The spaceship Justice of Toren is part of the Radch fleet in orbit around the planet Shis’urna during the operations connected to its annexation to the Radchaai empire. There’s only a nominal local resistance but Anaander Mianaai, the Lord of the Radch, is busy in a power struggle with herself with the consequence that many members of the fleet, both humans and spaceships with their ancillaries, are caught in the middle.

Evan Rachel Wood in 2017

On June 24 the second season of the show “Westworld” ended.

The TV show is inspired by the 1973 movie “Westworld”, written and directed by Michael Crichton. The story was based on the theme that was already a classic of the machine that rebels to humans, in this case in a futuristic amusement park. In the movie, behind the rebellion there was some vague information about a malfunction with the possible presence of a virus, in the show the question is much more complex, connected to the self-consciousness in the robots.

Allonnia Nuda (Image courtesy Derek Siveter/Tom Harvey/Peiyun Cong. All rights reserved)

An article published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences” describes the discovery of an organism that shows similarities with sponges dating back to more than half a billion years ago which was named Allonnia nuda. A team of researchers examined the fossils discovered in China and classified it within the chancelloriid family, whose relationship with other animals is controversial.