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It looks like SpaceX is gearing up to colonize Mars, with the first flight targeted for 2018 (the next time the Red Planet is close enough to give us an orbital shot at getting there quickly). That will just be the first unmanned test flight and attempted non-exploding landing, if they can even make that incredibly close deadline, but damn, I am excited! My favorite article about it so far is the one put together by Space Flight Now, who always do a great job of analyzing all the pros and cons of a proposed space mission. The Dragon 2 spacecraft could possibly deliver 4 tons of supplies to mars per launch (you wouldn’t want to use that craft for the actual mission, since the crew capsule is the size of an SUV), building up to enough food, water, and equipment to make the project viable. No word on when the first humans would head that way quite yet, but I expect them to make some comments once we see how the initial mission goes.

These came along just a hair too late to take advantage of the holiday gift giving season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some wonderful selections available.

From the world of Live Action, A Princess of Mars goes into public release. This is a Hi-Jack Movie example, starring Tracie Lords, not to be confused with John Carter of Mars coming out in 2012, even though the first story in ERB’s Mars series was The Princess of Mars.

Also in Live Action, Lesbian Vampire Killers is being released in the US under the shortened name Vampire Killers. The cast includes a former Doctor, Paul McGann, and if you were wondering they kill lesbian vampires, rather than being lesbians who kill vampires (that’s a different movie).

The dark animation of the film 9 puts Shane Acker onto a playground dominated by Tim Burton stories, with rag dolls out to save the world after the apocolyps strikes.

From the Anime choices, the one I have been waiting for is Genshiken 2 volume 3, which completes the third series of The Society For The Study Of Modern Visual Culture. This is the true Otaku Anime series, as the fact that each volume includes an episode of the story the characters are watching on TV tends to tell you. And yes, that means on the Genshiken series disks they had the Kujibiki Unbalance OVA episodes built in as extras to the disks. When they followed that up with the second series, Kujibiki Unbalance (official page HERE, in case you want to grab any extra videos or radio play goodies), the Genshiken OVA was embedded in the extras. I assume the Kujibiki OVA 2 files are embedded in the Gensiken 2 disks (I don’t know, since I haven’t bought them yet), but I was sad to learn there would be no boxed set of the third series.

Season 1, part two of Dragonaut comes out this week. To avoid Earth’s impending destruction from an extinction level event (an asteroid impact from a rock many kilometers along each axis), a Dragon’s Egg has been cloned and grown, the resulting DRAGONs paired up with human pilot astronAUTs. But as with any good plot line, there are complications (it would be boring otherwise), and as I really liked what they did in the first half of the season, I look forward to seeing how this works out.

And then there is Baccano, the Copmplete Series, a truely unique anime with almost as many primary charactors as there are episodes. While it starts out a bit confusing, the various story lines all come together by the end of the series as long as you pay attention. This one is worth the price of admission, and very much worth getting all at once, since you have no time to forget various subplot details while waiting for the next disk to be released.

There is also season 2 of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle coming out with this Tuesdays collect of Anime TV series. This one is the companion series for XxxHolic.

FYI, there are a few leaning-to-documentary programs I should mention here, like Time Warp 2, for the Science crowd (of which I am a member). But I won’t.

Google has been gathering the data for a while now for their Google Mars project. I first linked to its early version in March, 2006, but as you can see from the current version it has come a long way. As of yesterday, they announced its integration with the Google Earth 5 App. Time to download and install this puppy! Of course, it is currently in Beta, so whether you run Google Windoze or the Mac version it has some flaws. Just remember to send your bug reports back in, so they can get it working better. Meanwhile, a few videos to give you the idea…