Thursday, July 14, 2011

News: B’klyn Science Fiction Is ‘Out Of This World’

From Brooklyn Daily Eagle: B’klyn Science Fiction Is ‘Out Of This World’
Borough Spawns Many Imaginative Sci-Fi Writers
By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — In his first view of Earth from a lunar-bound space rocket’s porthole back in 1950, wisecracking Brooklyn-accented mechanic-astronaut Joe Sweeney wonders out loud about who is pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers that day.

That scene from the 1950 classic science fiction movie by George Pal, Destination Moon, was the first major Hollywood film to put a Brooklyn character into space. In fact, Brooklyn has spawned an out-of-this-world bunch of talented past and present science fiction characters, but several famous writers as well.

“It makes one think that there must be some mystical energy in Brooklyn soil that attracts the souls of outstanding people,” wrote Ugur Alkan on a Brooklyn Science Fiction Examiner website post in March.

Alkan mentioned two famed science fiction writers who are from the borough. One was the late Isaac Asimov of the Foundation Trilogy and I, Robot books, born in Russia but raised in Brooklyn and a Boys High School graduate. Asimov, a professor of biochemistry at Boston University, also wrote many factual popular science books.

The other was Frederik Pohl, now 91 and a former Galaxy Magazine editor. His family moved to Brooklyn when he was 7 and he attended Brooklyn Technical High School. Famed for novels such as Jem and Space Merchants, he wrote his first book Elegy to a Dead Planet, Luna in 1937. His latest book, published this year, is All the Lives He Led.

Science Fiction Imagination Soars Here Now

Meeting now in Brooklyn, in the year of X-Men, Green Lantern, Captain America, Transformers and Harry Potter movies, is the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers Group, an online meet-up group founded a year ago by a science fiction writer. It holds members-only classes to develop fantasy and science fiction writing skills.

Among prominent Brooklyn science fiction authors and technical writers are Lev Grossman and Barbara Krasnoff. A few years ago Grossman’s The Magicians was a New York Times best seller and one of The New Yorker magazine’s top books of the year. His sequel The Magician King is due out on Aug. 9.

Krasnoff is part of the Tabula Rasa writers’ group and has written stories for several publications, including Space and Time Magazine, Escape Velocity, Weird Tales and Amazing Stories.

Barry Strugatz, a Park Slope independent filmmaker and who wrote Married to the Mob and She-Devil, created waves with his quirky science fiction comedy, From Other Worlds, in 2007. It’s about a depressed Brooklyn housewife who experiences an alien abduction.

She hooks up with an Ivory Coast immigrant at a Brooklyn UFO support-group meeting at the Downtown Brooklyn Y, going on an adventure to help save the world. Their journey, with E.T. clues and a secretive spy, takes them to places such as the Brooklyn Museum and the now-closed Brooklyn Diner on Atlantic Avenue.

In June, a science fiction puppet show by the RPM Puppet Conspiracy ensemble performed its play, The Standard Model: Fallacious Physics and Scientific Half Truths, Alliances and Betrayal, the Latest Protocol for Blinding Laser Weapons, at the Tip Top Bar and Grill in Clinton Hill.

NYU-Polytechnic University has a legendary fanzine dating to the early Space Age, Golana. It was first published in 1963 by the Brooklyn Polytechnic Science Fiction Club (using the earlier name for the school). The inaugural issue was dedicated to science fiction writer Edward Smith, according to the Bern Dibner Library website.

Among the borough’s departed science fiction writers was William Tenn, who died at age 89 early last year. He achieved fame with the short story Brooklyn Project, published in 1948.

Another was scientist Carl Sagan, who popularized space topics in books and on television. His 1985 science fiction novel Contact, about an astronomer’s discovery of intelligent extra-terrestrial messages, became a popular movie in 1997 starring Jody Foster.

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