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The Golden Age of Cynicism

TELEVISION TAKES TWO STEPS BACKWARDS by Alessio Franko   HBO’s GAME OF THRONES is like one of its own conquering armies, an unstoppable force uniting distant tribes of TV viewers under its banner. Some watch to unpack the dense fantasy world of George R.R. Martin’s original A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Others watch […]

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Isaac Asimov

The great science fiction writer, biochemist, and humanist Isaac Asimov was born on this day in 1920. His family emigrated from the USSR to Brooklyn when he was three, and he grew up literate in both Yiddish and English. Asimov wrote or edited some 500 books — in nine out of ten of the major […]

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March 12: Premier of New Zealand

Julius Vogel, the eighth premier of New Zealand, died at 64 on this date in 1899. Vogel served in the office from 1873 to 1875 and again in 1876. Vogel’s political career was highlighted by land acquisition from the indigenous Māori people (whom he sought to see assimilated into white culture), by efforts to gain […]

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September 12: Stanislaw Lem

Stanislaw Lem, the philosophical science fiction writer and polymath whose 1961 novel, Solaris, has been made into a film three different times, was born in Lvov, Poland/Ukraine, on this date in 1921. During the World War II Nazi occupation, Lem worked in a German auto shop as a mechanic while at night working with the […]

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June 27: Captain Video

Captain Video and His Video Rangers, the first American science fiction television series, premiered on the Dumont Television Network on this date in 1949. The show was broadcast live, six days a week and then five, at 7:30 PM EST, and it ran for seven seasons. It was conceived by Larry (Abraham) Menkin, who would […]

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November 10: Neil Gaiman

Best-selling fantasy and sci fi author Neil Gaiman was born in Portchester, Hampshire on this date in 1960. His parents were Jewish Scientologists (a religion based on science fiction writings), and he was a voracious reader of science fiction and fantasy throughout his childhood. Gaiman has been awarded Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as […]

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March 31: Marge Piercy

The author of 17 novels and 17 volumes of poetry so far, Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan on this date in 1936. Her writing has spanned several genres, from science fiction (Woman on the Edge of Time, 1976, and He, She and It, 1991) to revolutionary fiction (Dance the Eagle to Sleep, 1970, […]

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December 4: Cryonics

Robert Ettinger, whose 1948 sci fi story, “The Penultimate Trump” (published in Startling Stories) promulgated the notion of preserving bodies so that future medical breakthroughs can restore life to them, was born in Atlantic City on this date in 1918. In 1962, Ettinger, teaching physics and math at the college level in Michigan, self-published The […]

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September 8: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Star Trek premiered on NBC television on this date in 1966, starring William Shatner as Captain James Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as the half-human, half-Vulcan first officer, Mr. Spock (Nimoy adapted the hand gesture for the “Priestly Blessing” to serve as the Vulcan greeting salute). Two of the original writers were also Jewish — Bob […]

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August 16: The Father of Science Fiction

Hugo Gernsback, for whom the Science Fiction Achievement awards, “Hugos,” are named, was born in Luxembourg on this day in 1884. Gernsback founded the first sci-fi magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926. He was also an electronics entrepreneur who founded the Wireless [radio] Association of America in 1913; it had 10,000 members within a year. In […]

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