Sunday, February 25, 2024

By Grabthar's hammer: Sci-fi in New Mexico.


Lynne Cantwell 2024
The New Mexico state legislature has wrapped up its annual session, so I've finally had a chance to learn the answer to a question that's been bugging me for several weeks: Why does Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham have an R2-D2 in her office?

See, our office is on the same floor in the Roundhouse as the governor's. There's a small gallery behind her reception desk that I pass on my way in to work, and you can see that R2 unit from the hallway.

It turns out that it's part of an exhibit on science fiction and New Mexico's connection to it. Now Albuquerque is the place for Breaking Bad fans (just check out the plethora of merchandise for sale in any tourist trap there), but a whole lot of movies have been filmed all or partly in the Land of Enchantment. Not any of the Star Wars movies, alas, according to this list on Wikipedia, even though there was some talk about Episode VII being shot here while the production crew was scouting locations.

Nor was Galaxy Quest filmed here. Nevertheless, the governor's office has on display a costume worn by Alan Rickman in that movie (and happy belated birthday to Alan). 

Lynne Cantwell 2024
Apparently the only connection between these props and this state is that they're on loan from the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamagordo. That's the closest town to White Sands Missile Range, the site of the world's first nuclear explosion, in 1945. (Oppenheimer was actually shot in New Mexico, although not at the Trinity site.) 

The exhibit in the governor's gallery also features info with a much less tenuous connection to the state: sci-fi authors from New Mexico. 

Lynne Cantwell 2024
Some, but not all, of the books in the display case were written by New Mexican authors. And I've gotta say that they missed a whole bunch of folks, including but not limited to George R.R. Martin, Walter Jon Williams, Robert Vardeman, and -- the most glaring omission, to my mind -- Stephen R. Donaldson. (I mean, Stephen McCranie? Who the heck is he? Maybe the exhibit's creators should have asked fans of the genre for input.)

The exhibit is up until April 29th, and admission is free. In fact, the Roundhouse has an extensive collection of work by New Mexican artists, and you can see all that for free, too. I know most tourists don't include state capitals on their itineraries, but ours is worth a stop if you're going to be in Santa Fe anyway.

We missed visiting the space history museum when we were in Alamogordo last fall. Now I'm wondering whether to go back. I have a few other things I want to see in the state first, though.


These moments of speculative blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!

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