Fanart (!) for Ghost in the Machine, and Announcement

My friend Gladius created this phenomenal illustration for the Virmire chapters of Ghost in the Machine. The joy of seeing an offscreen moment such as this, that would otherwise exist only as a vague idea in my imagination, would be hard to overstate. Perhaps more importantly, this is hugely motivating and invigorating as a token of interest. I am honored and deeply grateful.

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Sanctuary Dream

An Autism Simulation Movie

I ran into this while searching for authentic-looking movies dealing with autism. Sanctuary Dream is as authentic as it gets. Written and produced by Grant Carsten, a young man who is himself autistic, it thematizes domestic violence and homelessness, and attempts to simulate the way autistic people experience the world. This is achieved through unusual visual and sound effects, as well as the purposefully chopped-up narration.

The movie follows the journey of Faisal, an autistic teen, who flees from home and his abusive family in search of the Peace House, the titular dream sanctuary, where he could at last feel safe. Both the content and the presentation are raw, dissonant and disturbing, but the story ends on a hopeful note. Faisal finds the Peace House where one would least expect it at that point — in the company and kindness of well-meaning, open-minded people; and manages to connect with them through his interest in music and poetry.

For an indie production with a very modest budget, Sanctuary Dream is an amazing achievement. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the beautiful photography, and I was impressed by the performance of the lead actor, Traven Thomas, who was impeccable. I invite you to read the many thoughtful and overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Sanctuary Dream website, and visit its Facebook page for more info and some juicy behind-the-scenes morsels.

The movie can be purchased on Vimeo.

Ghostly & Hypnotic

I just can’t get over this image. It’s been sitting in one of my browser tabs for days and I’ve already showed it to all my friends (pardon me if you get this message more than once etc., etc.), yet I still haven’t had enough of it. So enter the records, it shall.

It’s weird, right? Like someone took a regular space photo and then painted that spiral over it — badly! Or like one of those mesmerizing examples of neural style transfer or creepy AI-generated art.

What it actually is, is a binary system where one of the stars has started to eject its envelopes at the end of its life, while the other still circles it, leaving a spiral trail in the outflowing gas. The regular gaps between the trails correspond to the 800-year orbital period of the binary.

This was an Astronomy Picture of the Day for 2018 July 8. You can read more about the image and the spiral in it there.

Image Credit: NASAESAHubbleHLA; Processing & Copyright: Domingo Pestana & Raul Villaverde.