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Jan 2013 10

by Nicole Powers

“Scholarship is inherently not a market activity.”
– Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow has made me wait almost a year to read Homeland, the much-anticipated sequel to Little Brother, his opus on civil rights and protest in the digital age. With not one but two Doctorow novels, Pirate Cinema and Rapture of the Nerds (which was co-authored with Charles Stross), already on the release schedule for 2012, Homeland has had to loiter in the wings for a 2013 publication date. But the wait has been well worth it. Homeland is a beyond worthy successor to Little Brother.

The highly prophetic novel, which was first published in 2007, is now regarded as a contemporary classic. As such, Little Brother is required reading in many of our more progressive schools, and has even been turned into a “must see” stage play –– hence Homeland has quite a legacy to live up to.

When I last sat down with Doctorow –– for an interview specifically about Little Brother –– on January 4th, 2012, Obama had just signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 into law. With the stroke of our President’s pen, yet another of the central themes of Little Brother –– unlimited military detention without trial –– had become fact rather than fiction.

In Homeland (which Doctorow had finished writing a few days prior to our first meeting), we return to the Little Brother universe a year and a half after the last novel left off. In the intervening months, austerity has choked the life and soul out of America, and our hacktivist hero Marcus Yallow has quit his studies, having been forced out of university by financial pressures and burgeoning student debt.

The action kicks off at Burning Man, where Marcus has an unexpected encounter with his sometime ally Masha, and their nemesis Carrie Johnstone. Masha, who is on the run from just about every law enforcement agency you can name (and a few that you can’t), hands Marcus an insurance policy in the form of a key to an encrypted torrent file which contains a treasure drove of highly sensitive data. Her subsequent disappearance prompts Marcus to set up a WikiLeaks-like site, an endeavor which is made all the more complicated by conflicts of interests that arise from his new job as a tech guru for an independent political candidate.

Meanwhile Johnstone has given up her position in the military for a lucrative job in the private sector with a Halliburton type entity that has tentacles embedded in the government, military, and the increasingly lucrative (and corrupt) student loan market. It’s therefore no surprise that Johnstone and her corporation, Zyz, are the subject of much of Masha’s leaked data, and a cat & mouse game ensues involving lawful interception, rootkits, and drones. It’s not all doom and gloom though, and at one point during the breakneck-paced plot, Marcus (and Doctorow vicariously through him) gets to sit down and have a Mini Dungeon adventure with Electronic Frontier Foundation founders John Perry Barlow, John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor, with uber geek Wil Wheaton acting as Dungeon Master.

Having read an advance copy of Homeland, I met up with Doctorow at his North London workspace to question him about it. As I make myself comfortable on his couch and set up my digital recorder on the coffee table next to his well-thumbed copy of the RAND Corporation’s 1955 book A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, the Canadian-born writer and Boing Boing editor does something quintessentially English by offering me a cup of tea. Normally this would be more than acceptable, but having been tempted by the delights of cold-brew coffee –– Marcus’ hi-octane beverage of choice which fuels much of Homeland –– I can’t help feeling a little disappointed that Doctorow didn’t have a batch on the go…

Read our interview with Cory Doctorow on SuicideGirls.com.

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Dec 2012 12

A.J. Focht

It’s been a big week for Trekkies. The first teaser trailer for J.J. Abrams Star Trek: Into Darkness has been released. The explosive trailer was just one of several announcements since the start of the month. The new movie website has released the new poster as well as the movie plot. Keep your eye out for more Star Trek news as Into Darkness launches into theaters on May 17, 2013.

There are a lot of questions floating around about the upcoming Star Wars movies. A few actors have spoken up about returning to the film. Samuel L. Jackson wants to work on the movie in some way. Since his character died, he said he’d be happy returning as a hologram. Ewan McGreggor also spoke up saying he’d return if needed. It looks like the only person not getting in on the project is George Lucas. Lucas described his hands off consulting role as being something of a Star Wars encyclopedia.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey comes out this Friday, but some lucky folks in New Zealand have already had the chance to enjoy it. However, there are complaints that the innovative 48fps format that Jackson used is causing nausea for some. Jackson fought to bring 48fps to theaters, so we’ll have to wait until The Hobbit is released worldwide to know the extent of problems the high frame rate will cause. While the first Hobbit film isn’t out just yet, the first still from the second movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was release via EW.

Man of Steel is already being called one of the most disappointing movies of 2012. This is a bit confusing as Zack Snyder’s Superman movie doesn’t release till June 14, 2013. Yahoo! writer Jonathon Crow hasn’t even seen the film yet. He was disappointed enough that the movie wasn’t released in 2012 to take umbrage, and was further perturbed by the fact that Snyder was throwing tradition away with his superhero’s red underwear. However, the comics have had Superman out of the red briefs for some time now. Don’t take these early negative critiques seriously, Christopher Nolan has put his full support behind the film. A new trailer, the second, has just been released for the film – see above.

Back in September, the CW announced they were going to film a Wonder Woman pilot. An in depth character bio has been released. Despite Wonder Woman being referred to as Iris, pilot script writer Allan Heinberg tweeted it was just a code name. There have been a few failed attempts at bringing the Amazonian Princess back to TV. Let’s hope the CW do as well with Wonder Woman as they did with Smallville and Arrow.

The Justice League movie isn’t set to hit theaters until 2015, but reports that Darkseid will be the major movie villain have ht the internet. Thanos was the hand controlling Loki throughout the Avengers, so it’s fitting that the Justice League would face off against what could considered DC’s counterpart to Thanos. Whether Darkseid will battle the JSA on his own or be using pawns is still unknown.

Joss Whedon has handed in his outline for Avengers 2. Marvel’s Phase 2 will officially begin in 2013. If everything goes right, the S.H.I.E.L.D. series will premier next year. ABC President Paul Lee is excited about the series. He said, “It’s very Joss Whedon,” which should only be taken as a good thing.

The hunt for Harry Osborne is over. Chronicle star Dane DeHaan will be playing the part in the Amazing Spider-Man 2. Many expect he will be the villain in the sequel, although he may be fitted for the best friend role in this outing before becoming a villain in a subsequent one. The movie is set to start production in early 2013 for a May 2, 2014 release date.

Some huge news for X-Men fans. The sequel to X-Men: First Class has two new cast members: both Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen will be in the movie. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy have also signed up. They may need them for a classic X-Men time travel story or perhaps a snapshot of the future.

It’s a sad week for Batgirl fans. Long time DC writer Gail Simone has been fired from the Batgirl book – via email! Simone wrote Batgirl for the New 52 after lengthy runs on Birds of Prey, Secret Six, and Wonder Woman. The graphic novel of her first story arc, which brought back Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, landed at No. 4 on the New York Times graphic books bestsellers list. Simone pushed boundaries with her characters, and had plans for a new transgender character that are now being scrapped. This upsetting news came just a week after Karen Berger stepped down as Executive Editor of DC’s Vertigo brand.

It’s that time of year, everyone is releasing their Best of 2012 lists. Spike TV hosted their Video Game Awards last week. While they certainly aren’t the Oscars, they’re the biggest name in video game awards right now. Out of the winners, there were some upsets. Borderlands 2 took Best Shooter and Call of Duty: Black Ops II didn’t win anything. The Walking Dead took the Game of the Year title. NerdBastards did an excellent job assembling all the amazing trailers from the show.

Kevin Smith announced he was leaving the movie game with his film, Hit Somebody. Well it turns out that might not be the case. The film was originally one movie, then two movies, and now it is back to one movie or perhaps a miniseries. That being the case, Smith is looking at leaving the movie business the way he came into it. He is now just waiting on Jeff Anderson to sign on so he can make his last cinematic creation, Clerks III.

The market for digital movies has grown a lot in recent years. While there are several choices for getting your films online, most of them seem to be equivalent to each other. That is until Netflix signed an exclusive deal to stream Disney. It means you will soon find all your childhood favorites on Netflix. Some movies have already been uploaded including Alice in Wonderland and Nightmare Before Christmas.

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Dec 2012 03

A.J. Focht

Paramount has just released a poster for the much anticipated new Star Trek film, Into Darkness. Cast members reprising roles from the 2009 J.J. Abrams-helmed Enterprise voyage include Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Karl Urban (Bones), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), and Zoe Saldana (Uhura). The most notable newcomer seems to be Benedict Cumberbatch, from the critically acclaimed UK TV series Sherlock, who is rumored to be playing Khan, a role that was originally played by Ricardo Montalbán in the ’60s TV series and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan film. The Enterprise will head Into Darkness in theaters on May 17, 2013.

Many Marvel movie fans will be pleased to hear the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled box set has received a new release date. Marvel ran into a problem with the original suitcase the set comes in when a German manufacturer filed a suit. Those who have waited despite the delay will be rewarded with first look teaser material for Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The box set is now releasing on April 2, 2013.

Despite all the rumors to the contrary, director James Mangold has revealed there will be no trailers for The Wolverine before The Hobbit. The first trailers for the movie won’t be until early 2013. The Wolverine will be coming to theaters July 26, 2013.

The CW’s new show Arrow adds yet another member from the DC comic family to the series this week. The Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, will make her debut this Wednesday. So far, there have been appearances by Deadshot, Deathstroke, and the Royal Flush Gang. It looks like Huntress will be the first hero to join the crew, although she will likely start off as an anti-hero/villain.

Peter Parker has been Spider-Man since his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15. While Miles Morales took over in Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker has remained Spider-Man in the Amazing Spider-Man series. That might all be coming to an end. (Spoilers ahead, if you need to catch up on the comics skip down.) In the final issues leading up to the release of Marvel Now’s Superior Spider-Man #1, Doc Ock has taken over Peter’s mind and body. Amazing Spider-Man #698 sold out and has gone to second printing. In a tweet from writer Dan Slott (supposedly meant to be a direct message), it may have been revealed that Miguel O’Hara, Spider-Man from Spider-Man 2099 will be taking over in Marvel Now’s Superior Spider-Man. Some are calling the tweet a red herring meant to mislead fans. What do you think? Is it time for Peter Parker to step down or will he always be Spider-Man?

There is more news from a galaxy far far away inside a Disney castle near you. Michael Arndt might be working on the script for the first movie in the new Star Wars series, but it looks like Disney is calling in the veterans to help. Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have been approached by Disney to work on the later installments. Kasdan penned two of the original Star Wars scripts: The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

In case you missed out on reading the book growing up or just want to check to make sure the film story lives up to it, the synopsis for the Ender’s Game film has been released. For those who have been worried about the project, the synopsis is dead on. Ender’s Game releases in theaters on November 1, 2013.

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Nov 2012 19

A.J. Focht

It may have been Thanos who was teased at the end of The Avengers, but it looks like he won’t be the only threat in Avengers 2. An incarnation of the The Masters of Evil is rumored to join forces for the sequel. Perhaps Thanos will be finished off in The Guardians of the Galaxy or while leading the Masters of Evil in the Avengers 2. The sequel isn’t out until 2015 so there is a lot that could change before then.

In the meantime, part of the story for Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been revealed. The second movie will feature flashbacks that shed light on the mysterious Black Widow and her relationship with the Winter Soldier. The film will be released April 2014.

The latest photos from the set of Thor: The Dark World have given the first glimpse of film villain Malekith the Accursed and his army of Dark Elves. Videos from the set shows the filming of the fight between Thor and Malekith. Thor: the Dark World is set to release November 8, 2013.

One of the original members of the Avengers might be joining the team in Iron-Man 3. Rumor has it Stephanie Szostak will be playing The Wasp. The Wasp was not only one of the original members, she was the first female on the team (sorry Black Widow fans). Iron-Man 3 releases May 3, 2013.

Shooting for Amazing Spider-Man 2 will begin in February. The film is still in the casting phase, and it looks like they are down to a shortlist of three actors for the part of Harry Osborne. Brady Crobet (Melancholia), Dane DeHaan (Chronicle), and Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) are left in the running. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is scheduled to release May 2014.

The Avengers might have been the top grossing movie of the year, but it’s The Dark Knight Rises that is going for the Oscars. Warner. Bros is campaigning the Academy to consider the film for 16 different categories. The Hobbit is also campaigning to be considered for 16 awards.

The season finale of the Walking Dead will introduce another fan favorite character from the comics. The current rumor is that they will be bringing in Tyreese, the former NFL linebacker. Find out for sure on December 2 when it airs.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is set for release on May 17, 2013. Zachary Quinto will be reprising the role of Spock in the film, but possibly for the last time. Quinto suggested he might leave the franchise after the upcoming film in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. He doesn’t suggest that the character is being killed off, so who could be the next Spock?

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Nov 2012 12

A.J. Focht

The Star Wars legend will continue with Star Wars: Episode VII. Michael Arndt, the scribe behind Toy Story 3, is currently working on a treatment. However, Disney is looking to ensure they have the best talent working on the new series of films, and has brought in Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams to supervise the development of the project.

Earlier in the week, there were rumors that Disney was looking to capitalize on another nerd market by buying out Hasbro. But those rumors appear to be just that. Hasbro doesn’t have any plans to sell out to Disney right now, and there’s no solid proof that this deal was discussed at all.

At a conference down in São Paulo, Brazil, Marvel Entertainment International President Simon Philips let some intriguing details about Iron Man 3 slip. Iron Man and War Machine won’t be the only ones suiting up in the film; Gwyneth Paltrow will be donning an Iron Man suit as Pepper Potts. It isn’t confirmed if the armor she will wear is the Rescue armor that Pepper wears in the comics, but one way or another, Pepper is getting in the action on May 3, 2013.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. television series may be happening sooner than anyone thought. The pilot –– which is being co-written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen –– is scheduled to go into production in January. At the rate they are moving, the series might be picked up as early as Fall 2013.

The Avengers brought together some of Marvel comics’ best known superheroes. The rest of the big names have been leased out by Marvel Studios. Most of these rights reside with FOX Studios, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four. Due to the success of The Avengers, FOX has hired Mark Millar to work with the remaining FOX superhero properties to help develop some sort of Avengers-like cohesion. He will be working with directors like Josh Trank to help the Marvel movies fit together.

The long awaited World War Z trailer has finally hit the internet. It’s been five years between studios, but Brad Pitt is ready to take on the zombie hoards. The film is a new take on the zombie outbreak, although it does not follow the documentary style of the book. World War Z will be in theaters everywhere on June 21, 2013.

We’ve known that Neil Gaiman was in line to write a new episode of Doctor Who, but it has now been revealed that Gaiman is bringing back the Cybermen in his episode, which will be entitled, ‘The Last Cyberman.’ Gaiman talked in a recent interview about the challenges of bringing the Cybermen back and making them scary again.

DC Comics fans can now enjoy their favorite comics without leaving their home. The company has expanded their digital output to include the Amazon Kindle Store, the NOOK store, and Apple’s iBookstore. Each Wednesday, new DC titles will be available online at these locations, and online at Comixology and via the DC Comics app.

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Nov 2012 09

by @NicolePowers and @VizFoSho

October 19 was a momentous night in the Twitterverse. We were having some after-hours lulz involving over nine thousand #tittysprinkles, when all of a sudden our favorite Twitter play thing, the @DBZNappa bot came to life. It was a miraculous moment; synapses and circuits were blown. Our sugar-titted tweets had caused the automated entity inspired by the Japanese manga series Dragon Ball Z to break character.

For the uninitiated, @DBZNappa, in homage to dialog from a legendary Dragon Ball Z episode, is programmed to respond to mentions of “over 9000” or “over nine thousand” on Twitter with the obligatory reply: “WHAT, NINE THOUSAND?!” However, when SG was iron trolling his ass, he responded with an “I love you girls.”

Seizing the opportunity, we asked the temporarily lucid autoresponder if we could honor his master with an SG membership. Thus we tracked down DBZNappa’s elusive Dr. Frankenstein, Daniel Lo Nigro from Melbourne, Australia. We had oodles of questions for him – well over 9000. Here he answers just 15 of them:

SuicideGirls: What’s your favorite episode of DBZ?

Daniel Lo Nigro: To be honest, I didn’t really watch a lot of DBZ. I used to watch it but not really pay attention (I’d have it on TV in the background, while doing other things). Obviously, the “Over 9000” episode segment is a favorite of mine 😛

SG: What inspired you to code the bot?

DLN: Some of my friends had a habit of saying “Over nine thousand” a lot, and so I started replying with “What? Nine thousand?” (Yeah, I was a bit lame.) They suggested creating a Twitter bot to do the same thing. I loved the idea and started working on it right away. I didn’t think that it’d get as popular as it did!

SG: What did you study? What do you do now to pay the rent?

DLN: I studied software development at university. I graduated last year and I’ve been working full-time as a web developer since then.

SG: How long have you been coding?

DLN: I’ve been coding since I was 8 or 9 years old. Even before then, I had an interest in computers and computer games. My uncle introduced me to computer programming and showed me how to do a few things on the computer. Together we made a little Tamagotchi game (much like the handheld Tamagotchi) and my interest for programming grew from there. I was mainly self-taught and “learnt by doing” (that is, giving myself projects to learn new things). When I got an internet connection for the first time (dialup!), I spent ages browsing the internet. It was amazing. I was interested in how web pages were made, so I got a copy of FrontPage and messed around with it. I started to realize that I really liked creating websites, and decided to focus on web programming. At high school I met other people with similar interests, and spent more time learning about programming. This helped pique my interest even more.

SG: What’s your favorite language?

DLN: Definitely C#. It’s is my language of choice because it’s a very powerful, clean, clear and concise language. Microsoft’s developer tools and languages are generally very good, and they keep adding very helpful features in every new release. JavaScript is my second favorite language; in the last few years I’ve been learning it more. You need to know it well to truly appreciate it. In the end though, all programming languages are pretty similar to each other. They’re just tools that help you build awesome things, and it doesn’t matter which one you use as long as you know how to use it well 🙂

SG: Do you have any other bots on Twitter?

DLN: No. I’ve considered it, but haven’t had any good ideas

SG: Hypothetically, would you make an SG #TittySprinkles bot. And, if so, how could you see it working?

DLN: I could totally see myself doing that! I can if you like. I have no idea how it would work or what it would do though. What do you think a #TittySprinkles bot would do? Haha

SG: Chocolate or vanilla?

DLN: That’s a tough one! They’re both good. I think a mix of both is best – then you get the best of both worlds 🙂

SG: What other anime do you watch?

DLN: I don’t really watch anime any more. I used to watch Speed Racer, Cowboy Bebop, Naruto, Death Note, Bleach, and Inu Yasha. I’m sure there’s others that I can’t remember at the moment though, haha.

SG: Do you have a favorite SG?

DLN: I only got a subscription recently and haven’t had a chance to explore much yet. Having said that, Quinne is definitely one of my favorites. I think she’s really cute (but most Suicide Girls are). There’s just something about her that makes me like her. Bob is one of my favorites as well 🙂

SG: How much time do you spend on Twitter?

DLN: I used to spend a long time on Twitter, but nowhere near as much any more. I use it mainly when commuting to work since I catch public transport.

SG: Would do you follow and why?

DLN: Being a developer, the people I follow are mainly web developers and people that are very influential in the web development industry, mainly for inspiration and to learn about new development techniques and resources. I also use Twitter as a way to get news quickly, as stuff pops up on Twitter quicker than it does on news sites. Of course, I also use it to keep up-to-date with what my friends are doing. And @SuicideGirls of course!

SG: Any other bots you admire?

DLN: I love @CapsCop. It replies to people that tweet entirely in uppercase. @KingLeonidaz_ is somewhat similar to DBZNappa. There was also @AnnoyingNavi – but it’s been suspended by Twitter. Twitter don’t seem to like auto-reply bots and a lot of them end up suspended by Twitter. Not too sure how @DBZNappa has survived. I guess I’m just lucky?

SG: How would you improve Twitter?

DLN: Honestly, I don’t know. I think it’s pretty good as it is now.

SG: What else are you working on now?

DLN: No personal projects at the moment. I used to work on random projects (half of which I’d never finish), but recently I haven’t had much time or many good ideas. So now I’m just doing my day job 🙂

If readers have questions about @DBZNappa, Daniel will be happy to answer them in the blog comments below. For more from Daniel, read his blog and follow @Daniel15.

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Nov 2012 02

A.J. Focht

One announcement surpassed all others this week, shaking the foundations of this galaxy and those far far away as well. Disney bought out Lucas Film, and therefore the Star Wars franchise, for $4 billion dollars. A new Star Wars movie is already planned for 2015. What does this mean for the geek universe? Since Disney also owns Marvel comics, the potential for crossovers is high. Also the purchase begs the question, is Leia now officially a Disney Princess? And, if so, will she get bigger boobs and a fancier ball dress? In an interview, Lucas said he intends to donate a large portion of the sale profits to charity.

Some news has surfaced about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including the film’s villain. Jamie Foxx is reportedly in talks to play the shocking Electro. While Foxx is not confirmed, it is likely that Electro will appear in the film. Electro is one of Spider-Man’s first villains, appearing first in The Amazing Spider-Man #9.

Sin City: A Dane to Kill For is in the casting process and we already have some new faces. Jaime King is returning for the sequel, playing the sister of her character in the first movie. She is joined by newcomer Jamie Chung, who plays the part of Devon Aoki. A Dame to Kill For is currently set to hit theaters on October 4, 2013.

If you have a vacation coming up, why not choose Middle Earth? Or the next best thing, New Zealand? To get you in the Hobbitsville mood, Air New Zealand has created an inflight safety video using characters from the film. Director Peter Jackson even makes a cameo appearance.

One last message before Election Day, Joss Whedon has given his endorsement to Mitt Romney – apparently so he can drive this country into a corporate wasteland ending in a Zombie Apocalypse. So if you haven’t voted yet, listen to your nerd overlord and embrace the “Zomney Apocalypse.” While you’re at it, go take a parkour class.

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