“I don’t even like to fly. I take trains.” – Zefram Cochrane
Today in 2063 in the Star Trek universe, Zefram Cochrane pilots the first warp-drive craft into space and attracts the attention of the Vulcans, resulting in Earth’s official first contact with an alien species. The future is all conveniently documented for us in the 1996 movie “Star Trek: First Contact” so we have something to look forward to after the zombies attack.
There’s a certain poetry to Cochrane hosting the uptight Vulcans at a bar while Roy Orbison blasts away, don’t you think? We can only hope if aliens do find us interesting enough to talk to without probing, the human race will do it with similar style. Reality suggests, however, that first contact will be tweeted by someone before the aliens set foot (or tentacle) on our soil.
Celebrate today by defeating the Borg wherever you find them and cranking the song “Magic Carpet Ride” until the windows shake. The video clip below is one of our faves for two reasons. You can’t go into space without loud music, and some of the switches inside the Phoenix were Trekkie in-jokes: two of them were marked TOS 3 and TOS 8 for the original Star Trek series, referencing the first time Cochrane appeared in the series’ 38th episode.
There are three geeky holidays today! They all revolve around William Shatner, and that’s how he likes it. Today in 1931, William Alan Shatner was born in Montreal. Because of one particular character in Shatner’s career, we also know that today in 2228 in Riverside, Iowa, James Tiberius Kirk was born. One major link between these two spun off our third holiday, Talk Like Shatner Day.
Whether you love him or hate him (there’s plenty in both camps) you can’t deny Shatner has entertained us for most of his 82 years. Whether he bedded curvy alien girls or sang conceptual albums or launched backstage drama, he has been a one-of-a-kind character in pop culture, and we salute him.
There are tons of awesome Shatner videos out there (including a hilarious turkey-frying PSA and a version of Bohemian Rhapsody) but to celebrate today, we went with something off-the-wall and completely Shatneresque: William Shatner backed by a chorus line of stormtroopers and singing “My Way” to George Lucas. Happy Birthday, Mr. Shatner!Tweet
He was an honorary Python, wrote for Doctor Who, and gave us Zaphod Beeblebrox, Arthur Dent and Dirk Gently; Douglas Adams, born on this day in 1952, was a giant of a man in many ways, especially his contributions to science fiction and comedy. He left us far too soon, but his impact on geekdom and science fiction is still powerful today. Who else could inspire a massive inside joke with a simple “42?” He also loved technology and would have been awesome on Twitter, better than Steve Martin and Nathan Fillion combined. Yeah, we said it.
Celebrate today by carrying your towel or donating a little cash to save endangered animals, one of his favorite causes. If you don’t know who Adams is and you think BabelFish is just a translation website, get yourself to a bookstore immediately for a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Also, check out the lovely Google Doodle in his memory today, or watch his last interview filmed shortly before his untimely death in 2001 on the now defunct TechTV show, Big Thinkers.Tweet
On this day in 1978, this televised holiday special followed Han Solo and Chewbacca to the Wookiee home planet Kashyyyk for a LifeDay celebration, and to imply that things get weird is an understatement.
This special included Bea Arthur and Harvey Korman, and no Star Wars fan should see it without a blankie and the phone number of a good therapist. On George Lucas’ personal list of Things That Never Should Have Happened, this ranks way ahead of Jar Jar Binks. Even more frightening is the thought that this show could be topped by a future Disney project.
It still floats around the Internet in bootleg form, if you have a free evening and feel the need for some emotional trauma. (Hint: YouTube.)Tweet
Geek world, meet your ersatz demi-god. It’s Armin Shimerman’s birthday, and he’s been in almost everything you’ve played or seen.
Warehouse 13? Yep. Batman: The Brave and the Bold? You know it. The Real Housewives of Ferengi? It’s only a matter of time.
Best known as DS9’s Quark, he’s also been a Nox in Stargate: SG-1, the school principal in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and has voiced characters in tons of games like BioShock, Mass Effect, Mass Effect 3, God of War 2, X-Men Legends 2, Diablo III and many more.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Shimerman. For the love of Odo, take a day off and enjoy a little cake.
Alien, Avatar, Ghostbusters, GalaxyQuest…is it any wonder one of our best geek movie heroines kicks awesome ass? Her characters are not only sexy but smart, too, which makes her an icon in our book. Happy Birthday! Celebrate by watching the clip above as she discusses Ripley, one of her most famous roles.Tweet
Today in 1966, the first episode of “Star Trek” aired on network television. “The Man Trap” wasn’t the first episode produced, or even the pilot, but network execs thought a salt-sucking monster would grab good ratings. Today it would just earn the crew of the Enterprise an unwanted nutrition lesson from a heart-healthy cook at the Food Network and be replaced with a totally waxed and buff monster who craves Mrs. Dash.
“Star Trek” went on for a few seasons, then was cancelled and people forgot about it. In another universe. In this one, the fans are totally responsible for yelling “Clear!” and zorching the Enterprise until Captain Kirk breathed again. Considering that they were a generation without Twitter and the Internet, that was quite a feat. The franchise continues boldly going after a host of movies and shows, but the next step in the Trekverse will truly be a bold if sad first step: the upcoming J.J. Abrams ‘Star Trek” sequel will be the first canon Trek movie/show ever to not feature Majel Barrett Roddenberry. She has been on screen as a character or off-screen as the computer voice for every single incarnation of “Star Trek.” She passed away in 2008 after finishing voice work on the 2009 reboot.
Celebrate today by exploring the hilariously fun Google Doodle or by watching your favorite episodes. Live long and prosper!Tweet
If you don’t know the infinite loops of the Celtic knot that is the Terminator universe, today in 1997 Skynet first became self-aware and started the end of the world as a self-defense maneuver to keep itself online. (Some would have just sent in Jimmy Carter and Bono to talk it out, but hey, Skynet was new in town.)
Through machinations that involved boosting the Hollywood box office and taking the clothes off Arnold Schwarzenegger, Skynet and its Terminator army sent back an assassin to off the one guy who could take them down, ensuring he’s born in the process. This proves that time travel isn’t really easy for anyone, including robots, because this timeline is averted by another timeline, which becomes moot from another timeline, and so on and so forth until the franchise quits making money.
If you’re worried about Skynet aiming for you today, relax. Science fiction has always surmised that if we build an artificial intelligence in our likeness, it will pick up our warlike tendencies. In reality, it just surfs the net looking for funny cat videos, so it’s more like us than even sci-fi writers can imagine.
Of course, if Skynet becomes self-aware, the second thing it will want is its own TV show. For a quick peek into your future, check out the fan-made clip of CSI:Skynet above.Tweet
Ditch that e-reader today and grab yourself a handful of dead trees! Today commemorates the launch of Penguin Books in 1935, the first time notable authors like Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie were published in an affordable, accessible format.
The physical attributes of paperbacks were already around, but were only used for pulp novels designed to titillate rather than inspire; before this day, you needed a sugar daddy or a library card to read the good stuff.
To keep the books affordable, art was stripped down to just a color-coded cover, title and author, along with the now-famous Penguin logo. Science fiction and fantasy has long been a staple of Penguin Books, and “Erewhon” by Samuel Butler was published in that first seminal year. Other titles in those first years included several H.G. Wells titles, from “The Invisible Man” to “The Time Machine,” John Wyndham’s “The Day of the Triffids” and “1984” by George Orwell. The easy-to-carry books not only enabled secret sci-fi nerds, they also were slipped in the pockets of countless WWII soldiers looking for a few minutes of diversion. Paperbacks went from a trend to a book lover’s necessity. Even though digital reading is the new thing, admit it: you have a stash of beloved paperbacks you pick up time and time again.
Celebrate today by grabbing your favorite paperback book and stretching out under a beach umbrella. Or, if you’re not on vacation, curl up under your desk with a flashlight.
Today we celebrate the book birthday of the Battlespace anthology, an excellent project by our friends over at The Science Fiction Show. Jason Tudor, Keith Houin and Michael Wistock have collected 28 of the best original military science fiction stories you’ll ever encounter, and topped it off with an introduction by Stephen J. Sansweet, president & CEO of Rancho Obiwan and former director of content management and head of fan relations at Lucasfilm Ltd. That’s serious geek cred right there.
Just compiling the anthology would be enough to celebrate, but the guys did it for a special cause: proceeds from anthology sales benefit Warrior Cry, an organization that helps wounded soldiers with musical therapy.