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Transportation

Star Trek Actor's Death Inspires Class Action Against Car Manufacturer (cnn.com) 365

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed Sunday when his own vehicle rolled backwards. Now Slashdot reader ripvlan writes: It has recently emerged that his vehicle was a Jeep. As discussed on Slashdot previously consumers are having a hard time knowing if the vehicle is in "Park." A new class action lawsuit is gaining momentum... Also Maserati has a similar system and can join the class action.
In fact, Maserati "is recalling about 13,000 sedans that have the same sort of gear shifter that was used in the Jeep that killed Yelchin," according to CNN Money, and Chrysler Fiat had in fact already filed a recall notice with federal regulators in April for Yelchin's band of Jeep, "but owners had only received a warning and not an official recall notice at the time of Yelchin's death". The lawsuit claims Chrysler "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811,000 vehicles and linked to driverless rollaway incidents," including 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers.
Sci-Fi

J.J. Abrams Reacts To Death of Star Trek Actor Anton 'Chekov' Yelchin (hollywoodreporter.com) 221

On Sunday morning 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed in a freak accident with his own car in the driveway of his home in Studio City. "It appears he momentarily exited his car and it rolled backward, causing trauma that led to his death," a police spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. This afternoon J. J. Abrams tweeted a picture of a handwritten eulogy addressed to Anton. "You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough. Missing you..." Zachary Quinto, who plays Mr. Spock, also tweeted a link to a picture posted in memorial on Instagram, where he called Yelchin "one of the most open and intellectually curious people I have ever had the pleasure to know... wise beyond his years, and gone before his time..."

Stephen King called him a "crazily talented actor gone too soon," remembering Yelchin from one of his last roles in a 10-episode adaptation of King's "Mr. Mercedes". Yelchin will play a mentally deranged ice cream truck driver who's also an IT worker for a Geek Squad-like company named "Cyber Patrol".
Books

What Star Trek Owes To Robert Heinlein 180

HughPickens.com writes: As we come up on the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek, Manu Saudia, author of Trekonomics, has an interesting article on BoingBoing about how according to Gene Roddenberry himself, no author had more influence on The Original Star Trek than Robert Heinlein, and more specifically his juvenile novel Space Cadet. That book, published in 1948, is considered a classic. It is a bildungsroman, retelling the education of young Matt Dodson from Iowa, who joins the Space Patrol and becomes a man. (In a homage from Roddenberry, Star Trek's Captain James Tiberius Kirk is also from Iowa.) The Space Patrol is a prototype of Starfleet: it is a multiracial, multinational institution, entrusted with keeping the peace in the solar system. In Space Cadet, Heinlein portrayed a society where racism had been overcome. Not unlike Starfleet, the Space Patrol was supposed to be a force for good. According to Saudia, the hierarchical structure and naval ranks of the first Star Trek series (a reflection of Heinlein's Annapolis days) were geared to appeal to Heinlein's readers and demographics, all these starry-eyed kids who, like Roddenberry himself, had read Space Cadet and Have Spacesuit -- Will Travel. Nobody cared about your sex or the color of your skin as long as you were willing to sign up for the Space Patrol or Starship Troopers' Federal service. Where it gets a little weird is that Heinlein's Space Patrol controls nuclear warheads in orbit around Earth, and its mission is to nuke any country that has been tempted to go to war with its neighbors. This supranational body in charge of deterrence, enforcing peace and democracy on the home planet by the threat of annihilation, was an extrapolation of what could potentially be achieved if you combined the UN charter with mutually assured destruction. "The fat finger on the nuclear trigger makes it a very doubtful proposition," concludes Saudia. "The Space Patrol, autonomous and unaccountable, is the opposite of the kind democratic and open society championed by Star Trek."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Movie Written By Algorithm Turns Out To Be Hilarious and Intense (arstechnica.com) 160

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that's not entirely what it seems. It's about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it's the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to "go to the skull" before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn't the product of Hollywood hacks -- it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that's what we'd call it. The AI named itself Benjamin. The report goes on to mention that the movie was made by Oscar Sharp for the annual film festival Sci-Fi London. You can watch the short film (~10 min) on The Scene here.
Sci-Fi

William Gibson Announces New Sci-Fi Comic Book (arstechnica.com) 32

68-year-old science fiction author William Gibson just released a complicated new science fiction comic book, and this weekend Ars Technica proclaimed that "the results are grand". An anonymous reader shares their report: A father and son occupy the new White House as President and Vice President. We never meet dad, but his son -- an evil jerk by the name of Junior Henderson -- has been surgically altered to resemble his grandfather, because Junior is about travel to an alternate Earth in 1945 to take grandpa's place, with the intent of remaking that world more to his liking (and, presumably, to prevent whatever it was that laid waste to the one we start off in)...The world is in ruins. The White House relocated to the ominous-sounding National Emergency Federal District in Montana. They have technology that far outstrips our own...

"It's an alternate-history/cross-worlds story," Gibson writes... "And I wouldn't want to spoil too much of the frame, because that's an inherent part of our narrative. But I will say that one of the first verbal tags we had for the material was 'Band Of Brothers vs. Blackwater.'"

On his Twitter feed, Gibson is also applauding the news that Marvel and DC comics abandoned a two and a half year legal battle to enforce their trademark on the word "superhero" against a publisher in the U.K.
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Books Should An Aspiring Coder Read? 178

Earlier this month Bill Gates released his summer reading list, which included Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson and mathematician Jordan Ellenberg's book How Not to be Wrong. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks for your book recommendations. I've been trying to learn more about coding, but I need a break sometimes from technical documentation and O'Reilly books. Are there any good books that can provide some good general context and maybe teach me about our place in the history of technology or the state of the programming profession today?
In the U.S., Memorial Day is considered the "unofficial" first weekend of summer -- so what should be on this geek's summer reading list? Cracking the Coding Interview? Godel, Escher, Bach? This year's Nebula award winners? George Takei's The Internet Strikes Back? Leave your suggestions in the comments. What books should an aspiring coder be reading?
Hardware

LG's New Fingerprint Sensor Doesn't Need A Button (mashable.com) 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: LG Innotek has developed a fingerprint sensor that's placed under a glass surface instead of in a physical button, the company announced Sunday. The new sensor could lead to smartphones that you can unlock by placing your finger on the phone screen. The LG-owned electronics parts manufacturer achieved this by cutting out a 0.01-inch thick slot in the lower part of a smartphone's cover glass, and then inserting a very thin fingerprint sensor into it. In other words, the sensor is still under the cover glass, but the slot moves the sensor close enough to the surface to read a fingerprint. That way, the sensor is protected from water and scratches, and can be installed anywhere under the phone's glass surface.
Books

2016 Hugo Awards Shortlist Dominated By Rightwing Campaign (theguardian.com) 702

Dave Knott quotes a report from The Guardian: The annual Hugo awards for the best science fiction of the year have once again been riven by controversy, as a concerted campaign by a conservative lobby has dominated the ballot. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies movements, which both separately campaign against a perceived bias towards liberal and leftwing science-fiction and fantasy authors, have managed to get the majority of their preferred nominations on to the final ballot, announced today. Since 2013, the Puppies factions have posted recommendations of works to combat the Hugo tendency to reward works that leaders of the movement deem "niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun." The Rabid Puppies has been successful in getting its nominations on the shortlist again this year; out of 80 recommendations, 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot. At MidAmeriCon II this year, it was announced that more than 4,000 nominating ballots were cast for the 2016 Hugo awards, almost double the previous record of 2,122 ballots. This news was initially greeted with cautious optimism, but the shortlist shows that the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to "game" the awards. The shortlist will be voted upon and the winners revealed at the forthcoming Worldcon in Kansas in August.
Sci-Fi

CIA: 10 Tips When Investigating a Flying Saucer (cia.gov) 54

coondoggie writes: You may not associate the Central Intelligence Agency with historical UFO investigations, but the agency did have a big role in such investigations many years ago. This week the agency posted an article called 'How to investigate a flying saucer." The release is part of a series of old documents dredged up as a nod to the return of The X-Files to TV this weekend.
Data Storage

Gene Roddenberry's Floppy Disks Recovered (pcworld.com) 277

Press2ToContinue writes: When Gene Roddenberry's computer died, it took with it the only method of accessing some 200 floppy disks of his unpublished work. To make matters worse, about 30 of the disks were damaged, with deep gouges in the magnetic surface. "Cobb said a few of the disks were formatted in DOS, but most of them were from an older operating system called CP/M. CP/M, or Control Program for Microcomputers, was a popular operating system of the 1970s and early 1980s that ultimately lost out to Microsoft's DOS. In the 1970s and 1980s it was the wild west of disk formats and track layouts, Cobb said. The DOS recoveries were easy once a drive was located, but the CP/M disks were far more work. " So what was actually on the disks? Lost episodes of Star Trek? The secret script for a new show? Or as Popular Science once speculated, a patent for a transporter?

Unfortunately, we still don't know. The Roddenberry estate hasn't commented yet, and the data recovery agency is bound by a confidentiality agreement.

Sci-Fi

What the Future Fiction of 2015 Revealed About Humans Today (vice.com) 179

An anonymous reader writes: There were a lot of stories told about the future in 2015. More than usual, maybe. Big budget blockbusters, hefty, idea-rich novels, and epic, dystopian video games—there was complex, stirring speculative fiction dripping from every media faucet we've got. And it spoke volumes about our anxieties about the present. In 2015, those anxieties are, apparently, concern the rise of science denial, climate change, total collapse.
Sci-Fi

Paramount and CBS File Lawsuit Against Crowdfunded, Indie Star Trek Movie (hollywoodreporter.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes: Back in August, an Indiegogo campaign raised $566,023 to produce Axanar, a Star Trek movie in development by an independent group of fans, who also happen to be film professionals. Now, unfortunately but predictably, Paramount and CBS have filed a lawsuit in California federal court claiming their intellectual property is being infringed upon. They are "demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement." The guy running the crowdfunded film is a lawyer, and he said, "We've certainly been prepared for this and we certainly will defend this lawsuit. There are a lot of issues surrounding a fan film. These fan films have been around for 30 years, and others have raised a lot of money." He said CBS/Paramount weren't willing to provide guidelines on what types of fan productions would be tolerated (unlike Lucasfilm with Star Wars), because they worry about setting precedent.
Movies

Sci-Fi Screenwriter and Author George Clayton Johnson Dead At 86 21

George Clayton Johnson, writer of the first-aired episode of Star Trek, and co-author of Logan's Run, died on Christmas Day of cancer, at the age of 86. Johnson was a prolific television writer, penning several episodes of The Twilight Zone, and writing for several series as well; he was also a nominee for both the Nebula and Hugo awards. His first-published story, Oceans 11, was turned into a movie, and then revived as a the kernel for a film franchise. Johnson wrote comics as well as screenplays, short stories, and novels; he was originally slated to appear at the upcoming San Diego Comic Fest.
Books

Andy Weir, Author of 'The Martian,' Is Writing a Novel Set On the Moon (huffingtonpost.com) 73

MarkWhittington writes: Readers wondering where Andy Weir, whose book The Martian featured a NASA astronaut stranded on Mars, will take us next need wonder no longer. According to a story in the Huffington Post, Weir's next novel will feature a woman living in a city on the moon. The novel is due to be out in late 2016 or early 2017.

Weir, naturally, is cagey about plot details. But it's likely he will pay as strict attention to the science in his new story as he did in The Martian. There's no word yet about possible movie deal, but considering the success of The Martian, it's a safe bet someone will want to bring Weir's lunar adventure to the big screen.

Television

Spike TV Is Turning Red Mars Into a TV Series (arstechnica.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: Kim Stanley Robinson's popular trilogy Red/Green/Blue Mars is going to see its first book turn into a TV series produced by Spike TV and is slated for release in 2017. The episodes will be an hour long, and their writing will be led by J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon-5. According to Variety, "the series will follow the first settlers charged with terraforming a mysterious planet, all of whom have competed to be a part of the mission."
Sci-Fi

Science-Fictional Shibboleths (antipope.org) 508

An anonymous reader writes: SF author Charlie Stross has put together a short list of what he considers to be shibboleths for implausible science fiction. (If you're unfamiliar with the term, read the Wikipedia entry first.) So, what tops his list? "Asteroidal gravel banging against the hull of a spaceship. Alternatively: spaceships sheltering from detection behind an asteroid, or dodging asteroids, or pretty much anything else involving asteroids that don't look like [a pock-marked potato]." Another big red flag for Stross is when authors fail to appreciate Newton's second law, having their characters undergo impacts or accelerations that would turn them into a thin, reddish paste on their starship's hull. Some interesting examples from commenters include: futuristic yet manually-aimed weapons, technobabble as a plot device, and science officers with Ph.D. levels of expertise in dozens of fields. One of mine: entire races or planets full of people who behave the same, often based on some keyword. What are yours? Stross's focus is on books, but feel free to bring up movies and TV shows as well.
Sci-Fi

MST3K Kickstarter Poised To Break Kickstarter Record (kickstarter.com) 104

New submitter the_Bionic_lemming writes: Recently Joel Hodgson, the creator of Mystery Science 3000 -- which had a successful run of over 197 shows -- has after 15 years launched a kickstarter to relaunch the series. In just over two weeks Joel has been wildly successful in not only having over 25000 fans contribute, but actually scoring the second-highest show kickstarter on record — he has just under two weeks to shoot past the Number 1 kickstarter, Veronica Mars.
Sci-Fi

Netflix Remaking Lost In Space (ew.com) 169

An anonymous reader writes: Classic sci-fi show Lost in Space is making a comeback. Netflix is developing a new version of the series, according to Kevin Burns, the executive producer in charge of the project. "The original series, which lasted three seasons and 83 episodes, is set in a futuristic 1997 and follows the Robinson family's space exploration. After the villainous Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) sabotages the navigation system, they become helpless and, yes, lost. (The robot tasked with protecting the youngest child, the precocious Will, utters "Danger, Will Robinson!" — a phrase that still tortures this reporter.)" Burns has been trying to bring the series back for more than 15 years, and it looks likely he'll finally get his chance.
Sci-Fi

MST3K Successfully Crowdsources Its Comeback (thenewstack.io) 53

An anonymous reader writes: At least three new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be filmed, thanks to over $2 million in online contributions from fans. Responding to a Kickstarter plea by series creator Joel Hodgson, fans contributed over $1.5 million within just two days, and after five more they'd push Hodgson over the first $2 million threshold. "We've got movie sign," Hodgson posted on Twitter, noting that for each additional $1.1 million raised over the next 20 days, three more new episodes would be filmed. And this Thursday he'll be hosting a grateful online marathon of classic episodes on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition which dates back nearly 25 years, when "Mystery Science Theater 3000" first began its 8-year run on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi channel.
Sci-Fi

Star Trek: Renegades Working On Episodes 2 and 3 (kickstarter.com) 35

JoSch1337 writes: The last time Star Trek: Renegades was on Slashdot was in 2013. It's an independent, canon-faithful Trek series with high production values and some of the actors from the TV shows. Since their original campaign, the team has produced an amazing pilot episode 1 and is now gathering support to produce episode 2, and even episode 3 if they reach their stretch goal. From the Kickstarter page: "Star Trek Renegades is an independent, fan-funded and supported Internet television series, executive produced by Sky Conway. Renegades features a combination of familiar Star Trek character and actors, plus a collection of hot, new rising actors. Set a decade after Voyager's return from Delta Quadrant, ST: Renegades focuses on a team of fugitives, who are on the run from the Federation while secretly working for the head of Starfleet intelligence, Admiral Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Tuvok (Tim Russ, who also directs) to root out internal corruption within the Federation as well as external threats."

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