I'm a big fan of Andy Weir's debut novel The Martian. I was actually listening to the audiobook on the day in April when I visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where the book is partially set. (It's also set in space and on Mars.) I was out there doing some reporting for my day job wit Air & Space / Smithsonian, and it was in that capacity that I got on the phone this week with Matt Damon, who plays the story's protagonist, stranded astronaut Mark Watney, in Ridley Scott's film adaptation, due out Oct. 2. The film hasn't screened for critics yet, but the fact its release date was moved up by nearly two months suggests the studio is convinced it works.Read More
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I was honored to be invited to join Tasha Robinson and Keith Phipps to discuss The State of Science Fiction in the movies on this week's episode of The Dissolve podcast. The also includes a discussion of documentaries and is thus named for a Werner Herzog phrase I love. A lot of ums from me, a lot of insight from Tasha and Keith. Listen here.
Can of Wormholes, or Accretion Discography: My Interview with Kip Thorne, Interstellar Progenitor and Scientific Adviser
For my day job at Air & Space / Smithsonian, I interviewed Kip Thorne, the theoretical physicist who with his friend the movie producer Lynda Obst, conceived the film Interstellar back in 2006. Thorne remained closely involved with the picture throughout its writing, production, and editing, and has now published a 324-page companion to the film called The Science of "Interstellar" laying out his scientific rationalization for every aspect of its story -- even the Love Tesseract Wormhole.
DUH: Don't read this interview if you intend to see Interstellar but haven't yet.
And if that's your situation, and you live anywhere in the Washington, DC diaspora, make sure to catch the movie in 70mm IMAX at either the National Air & Space Museum downtown or at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center out by Dulles International Airport. I've seen it both this way and in digital IMAX, and the 70mm presentation is more painterly and majestic. It also sounds better, curiously. The muddy sound mix we talked about on Pop Culture Happy Hour last week (based on a digital IMAX screening in Silver Spring, Maryland) was not a problem when I saw the film again at NASM in 70mm.
I was happy as always to be the fourth crewmember on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein regular panelists Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon discuss Christopher Nolan’s thrilling (to me, anyway) sci-fi opus Interstellar. We also talk about some of the other films that’ve angled for a plausible approach to sending our species beyond what the early rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky called “the cradle of humanity.”Read More