Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kew the Apocalypse

This stunningly beautiful video shows how when push comes to shove and the world goes boom (or for the optimists when we build a big ol' rocket ship and get the hell out of dodge) Kew Gardens and the Millenium Seed Bank people are the ones that we will be relying on.

Here's the link

Having just recently re-watched The Road ( a movie I still feel somewhat ambiguous about, the introspectiveness of the concept works far better in book format), I am immensely relieved that this is a thing. I think all countries should mutually agree to if at all possible avoid blowing it up, cuz ya know, that would be bad. Also, we've gotta make sure Wolfgang survives (everyone needs a Wolfgang). He looks like a guy who can be counted on come the end times.

If you've got a bit more time on your hands, here's a longer vid about this amazing place.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Perfect Combination

By Jove I love this!

Dr Grordbort Presents: The Deadliest Game from Media Design School on Vimeo.

*swoons because of the Britishness*

 The futuristic setting combined with the 1950s B movie esthetic pulled me in right away. Add to that the perfect mix of old school naturalist adventuring and a fantastical world I'd love to see more of, and you have me very intrigued, sir. Also, if you think Lord Broadforce's rather callous attitude towards the wonderful creatures is unrealistic you'd be hilariously mistaken.

I'd love to see Dr. Grordbort as a series or a movie. I bet you Caruthers has a backstory that's worth getting into. Check out the Media Design Schools' Vimeo channel for some cool behind the scenes stuff, as well as other brilliant projects.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Lion Moth, the Ascalapha odorata and the Cabinet

Okay, here is the very essence of Fantastical World.

This is the tale of a magical cabinet, a lost treasure, and a chance discovery that revealed the life of an awe-inspiring man who helped solve the mystery of nature itself, and sent a message through time.

Thanks to  You never let me down.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Creepy Planet - Nowhere is Safe!

Fire. Ants. Are. Scary.

No I mean really, they freak me out, they are painful, there's thousands of them, and oh yeah..... this.

But whatever, he's just not pushing down hard enough, right? Nope.

Okay, so that's super creepy. I was planning on leaving it there, but during my research I found this.....


All Hail our Ant Overlords!!! (and their uber-creepy plant minions)

We've got to find a way of saving the bees, so we can join with them in a future revolution!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hello Again, Fantasy Tourism Lives!

This is not a blog of shame.

 I return to you with my held high, for in the last year and half I have accomplished a lot. I was able to not only face but defeat my demons and finish university and get my degree, not something that was always guaranteed. I also lucked into an amazing job at one my favourite places in the world in exactly the industry I want to be in. All in all a grand ol’ time. 

But the times they are still a-changing. Come the spring I am finally making my long-awaited move across the pond from Canada to the UK. In light of this I, your Fantasy Tour Guide, bring to you a fantastical tour of the capital city of my new potential home.

London is littered with locations from film and TV in every genre, but its cult classic credentials are through the roof. In light of this, it would take a whole novel to describe them all, and well I just don’t have the time. (Also it’s been done, check out So, I will be covering the spots that are top on my list which I am thrilled to be able to cross off very soon.
We begin at the beginning with....

The Quartermass Experiment - Westminster Abbey

Kings, Queens, statesmen and celebrated poets, grand as they may be are not what would draw me to the magnificent construct that is the Westminster Abbey. For this great hall is where the world was saved by the genius that was Prof. Quartermass. 

Transmitted live in glorious black and white, The Quartermass Experiment was the first of its kind, and undoubtedly inspired much if not all of the classic British sci-fi to come. It told the story of man’s first rocket to space returning to earth with two missing astronauts and one very dodgy survivor. Victor, the last man standing, begins to behave strangely, and soon begins to mutate into some strange plant thing. While the rest of the world goes crazy (there are kidnappings and escapes with journalists and Scotland Yard running all about) Prof. Quartermass works away in his lab only to discover that the monster formerly known as Victor could destroy the whole world. 

Conveniently discovered by a TV crew in Westminster, Prof. Quartermass along with the army rush into the vaunted cathedral and essentially talk the monster down. (Okay so they convince the leftover consciousnesses of the astronauts to destroy the monster from within, but still how British is that!)

 Thanks to Quartermass and his big ol’ brain the world is once again safe from alien menace.

It was thrilling, genuinely terrifying stuff, and the predecessor to so much brilliant TV. I’d really like to memorize that final speech and hear it echoing off of those marble walls once more, but I suspect that is frowned upon, so perhaps I will just whisper them.

Real science bonus: Westminster is the final resting place of many great scientists including the granddaddy of all naturalists Charles Darwin. Not a bad place to begin your day out.

Doctor Who  - Thames Flood Barrier

As The Doctor’s most beloved city, you can’t throw a stone without hitting something that he’s visited, saved, or brought chaos upon. The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Canary Wharf, Number 10 and the Parliament buildings have all been a part of a Who story at one time or another, some several times over. 

The Thames Flood Barrier is an interesting location both in Who lore as well as ecologicallyspeaking. It featured in The Runaway Bride, which introduced my favourite companion of the New Who, Donna (second only to the irreplaceable Sarah Jane Smith in my heart) 

 It was also a bit of a turning point for The Doctor. After losing Rose, 
Can you blame me?
and all the trauma he’d been through since the Time War and finding out that it was all for naught (the Daleks were still swanning about despite his best efforts), The Doctor got a bit revengey. Whilst drowning a load of alien babies with the water of the Thames in the bowels of the Barrier, The Doctor got quite caught up in all the rage of having to be the one to make the really tough choices, time and time again. Luckily, the plucky Donna arrived and brought the silly man to his senses, and he went off and was his jolly old self. It did get pretty dark there for a second though, as The Doctor very nearly committed suicide by rage-coma/drowning.

Interestingly, the Thames Flood Barrier is itself a part of a turning point and some very touch choices. London has always been vulnerable to floods, but since its construction in the 80s the need for the Barrier has doubled. Whether it is rising sea levels, an increase in storm surges or the confluence of spring melts with other environmental factors, all are indicators that the complications of climate change are very real. 

The increased usage of the Thames Barrier is a warning sign that while safe for now, some serious changes are coming our way, and we have to figure out a way to not just keep the symptoms at bay, but to battle the underlying causes. Although, maybe The Doctor was on the right track and we should just dump all that excess water down a whole that reaches to the center of the earth. That would work right?

 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - London Zoo 

I can never get enough zoos. They are just awesome. London Zoo is in particular is so fabulous it needs a whole society to contain the awesomeness. From it’s conservation programs, the associated Institute of Zoology, and its education programs for schools, this place is a powerhouse of science. What more could a geek ask for! 

Oh yeah, it could also be the place where many a child's heart sang with pride and joy when the one and only Harry Potter first spoke to a snake and trapped the dreadful Dudley inside an enclosure. As the setting for the first in a long road of triumphs and heartache for the boy who lived, the Reptile House at the London Zoo has no doubt seen an upturn in its business. Though always a favourite of mine, reptiles have long had the reputation of being ookey ( a technical term I assure you). 

But if you have the right scar, you might be able to have a chat with the residents, a prospect that I suspect has led many a young witch and wizard to bravely conquer their fears and visit the reptilians home. London Zoo feeds both halves of my fantasy/nature soul, and since I’m the kind of person who can’t get enough of that, I will probably be a repeat visitor should I ever call London my home. Sadly, I am not fluent in parseltongue, because I’m betting the staff can translate by now.

And last but not least.....

Neverwhere and others - The whole damn city 

Okay so this one is a little vague, but lets face it, London is kind of magical. With the numerous urban fantasy, alternate London stories out there, the whole city has an element of the mystical. 

The top of the list is of course Neil Gaiman’s brilliant Neverwhere, which actually began as a TV series in 1996, and was then turned into a novel. This was my introduction to Gaiman’s work and I’ve never forgotten it. Add to that novels like The Borribles, Un Lun Dun and Ian Macleod’s The Light Ages, upon first visiting the city I will be looking for magic and mystery around every corner. I can’t help it, I do that even here in my boring old mining town, and it has no magical ambience at all. And considering it is the setting for my own alternate London set of stories, it will be fine fodder for a budding novelist.

And even if there isn’t any magic as we know it from stories, there is a palpable history in a place like London. The knowledge that millions of people have lived, loved and died in that very spot is remarkable. The first stop on our tour, Westminster Abbey was completed in 1066. People have been celebrating and mourning there ever since. Alongside the grand stories that we can read in history books, there is the knowledge that the smaller stories were happening too. A broken man finally finding his way out of the gutter, the silent tragedy of a mother who lost all of her children in the fire, a million love stories and a million broken hearts all in that one place. 

A modern city with a tangible past. Can you say temporal flux? Or maybe time travel? Whatever it is, its as close to magic as we can ever really get.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blog of Shame/Creepy Planet

Okay, so I am made of suck. I could give lots of excuses except I don't really have any.

I'm just going to dust myself off and try and get back on this blogging horse.

Creepy Planet: Plants, nice sedentary sort of things, fairly inobstrusive right? WRONG!

Mind Controlling Fungi

One for every species...... maybe we should stop eating mushrooms, just in case.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fantasy Traveler's Guide

It’s Sunday and I’m extremely bored, and I’ve decided to make a proper go of this whole blogging thing. In the next few days I’m going to write a sampling of all my features and promise to start making regular posts. I’m thinking a Creepy Planet every Sunday and at least one other feature or random blogpost during the week.
So, let’s go a-traveling!
To begin with I thought I’d stick with the old adage “write what you know,” and while I live closer to New York than our first location, I feel a great sense of national pride and want to sing it’s praises.
I’m speaking of Vancouver, British Colombia: Hollywood North, and a sci-fi fans dream destination.
The Vancouver area is worth a visit regardless of your geeky proclivities, the beautiful coastline, view of the North Shore Mountains from the city and swathes of temperate rainforest make it an ideal place for hiking, skiiing(depending on the season) and camping. A nature buff like myself would certainly come away happy, and with hundreds of pictures no doubt. The city itself is pretty amazing, with a gorgeous skyline backed by mountains, and according to PZ Myers a happening nightlife, even if you never left the city limits I don’t think you’d be disappointed. 
For those who spent their lives indulging in science fiction television and movies, however, it is a particular joy.
Vancouver’s geeky street cred is off the charts. Over the years it has hosted the productions of The X-files, The Outer Limits, Andromeda, The 4400, Smallville, Sliders, Supernatural, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, and Caprica, Eureka and the entire Stargate franchise, just to name a few. And that’s only the TV series!
So, I thought I would point the spotlight on a few places in Vancouver where geeky tourists of all stripes can marvel at the startling beauty of the real world, whilst reveling in their fantasy world as well.
Queen Elizabeth Park-
This place just looks spectacular. Ever since I watched the Stargate SG-1 episode The Keeper (guest-starring Dwight Schultz, yay Barclay!) this park has been on my must-see list. With attractions like the arboretum and the domed Bleodel Floral Conservatory, as well as a golf course, tennis courts and lawn bowling, you could easily make a day of it, if not a whole week.

Can I admit that should I visit the park with a like-minded individual I would immediately start playing “SG team”? Your damn right I can. (For the record, I’d be Daniel)
Vancouver Aquarium-
As the setting for a clandestine meeting between Mulder and Deep Throat in season 1 of The X-files, the aquarium is another naturalist gem in the heart of the city. Wander through the underwater exhibits, have an animal encounter with a beluga whale, or book yourself a sleepover (How cool is that!!).

They also have a 4-D theatre. Now, if you’ll allow me to get all sciencey for a moment, I hasten to explain that the aquarium isn’t experimenting with the abstract mathematical concept of the fourth dimension as entertainment. No, they are combining 3-D movies with physical effects like wind, mist and scents to create what is no doubt an amazing experience. I am particularly jealous of anyone who has attended the Planet Earth 4-D showing, as David Attenborough is one of my heroes and to hear his voice booming out of big theatre speakers would be quite a thrill. (Supergeek side-note: 4-D is also the name of a season 9 X-files episode, bringing the whole thing full circle)

If I ever get the chance to visit this fabled city I will most definitely be setting up a clandestine meeting here. Who wants to be my Deep throat? (sexual innuendo? me? nooo, never!)
UBC Campus-
With a mile long list of series and movies that have used the campus, the University of British Colombia has sci-fi locations coming out the wazoo. It also has 44 hectares of gardens, comprised of the botanical gardens and centre for plant research, as well as the Rose Gardens, and the Nitobe Japanese Memorial Gardens. 

And just in case you are bored of nature’s bounty there is also the Museum of Anthropology, Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, an art gallery, their own cinema and a studio theatre as well as fine dining. You know, just in case.

I’d also like to geek out over their library and learning centre, a thing of beauty both inside and out, for the eye and the brain. UBC is a research powerhouse and a treat for any science geeks, nevermind the fiction part.

One final note about the city, it has a huge Asian population. As one of the most popular destinations in Canada for immigrants, the attraction for any anime fan is obvious, as the number of stores importing anime, Asian pop and cuisine is extremely high and from what I’ve heard, very very good quality.
Vancouver is truly a fantasy travel destination. So, planned your trip yet? I sure as hell have!