The Expanse books are coming to Syfy and I’m incredibly excited. The trailer looks pretty good and they’re managed to show a lot of the characters without showing much of the action. According to Syfy it’s their most expensive product to date and if you’ve seen Sharknado 2 that’s no small boast. To be fair they are trying to get away from the Sharknado bollocks and make more science fiction so I should be more supportive.
I’ve written about every book in The Expanse series and raved about them but if you haven’t yet, give them a read starting with Leviathan Wakes. Each book feels like it’s a slightly different genre:
Leviathan Wakes – Noir detective / zombies.
Caliban’s War – Political / military
Abbadon’s Gate – Exploration / Arthur Clarke’s Rama
Cibola Burn – A bit like a Western
They are all great though and the recurring characters are awesome. The TV series seems to be just the first book but they have also included a character called Avasarala from the second, who is a brilliant character and is brilliantly cast. In fact the whole cast seems great and I knew the characters just by looking at them, so I that’s a positive sign.
Anyway, that’s enough waffle. Here is The Expanse TV series trailer:
To my colossal shame I only just got round to reading Frank Herbert’s classic this year. I’ve owned about four copies of the paperback over the years and I finally read it on a kindle. To be fair, the book version is quite a hefty tome and the kindle version isn’t.
A quick summary in case you somehow don’t know the plot of the book or film or TV show or comic or computer games. Set over 10,000 years in the future humanity has spread among the planets and continues to be warlike arsewits to one another. At some point there had been a war with the machines and so nobody uses computers any more. Instead humans have been adapted, bred and trained to be human computers, soldiers, partial psychics, seers and more. One powerful group has been blending the bloodlines to create a mega powerful being called a Kwisatz Haderach . Dune follows the story of a young lad called Paul Atreides (who may or may not be the Kwisatz Haderach) as his family takes of control of the planet Arrakis – also known as Dune.
Arrakis is a pretty special place as it is the only source of the ‘spice melange’ – a drug like substance that expands consciousness and life as well as allowing space travel through the melange addicted Guild Navigators. Chuck in a power balance between the Emperor and the Ducal Houses and there is a whole lot that can go wrong. So when the Atreides are attacked by their enemy, the absolutely psychopathic Harkonnen, things come to a head. Oh, there are also mega hard desert warriors, huge worms, psychic sisterhoods, plots, assassinations and war. It’s pretty awesome.
Dune by Frank Herbert was published in 1965 but frankly, it could have come out yesterday. I agree with many who have described Dune as being to Science Fiction what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy – probably not a great entry point to the genre but once you have read a few things it is a masterpiece that absolutely needs to be read. My quick summary ended being quite long because it is one hell of tale.
If you haven’t gotten round to reading Dune yet – you should! What the hell have you been doing with your time? Highly recommended.
Like a really, really old Buck Rogers, I am in the 26th century right now. I am currently working as a journalist/ content writer in Bangkok and the Buddhist year is 2558, which is way better than lame old 2015.
I haven’t wished all my dear ScifiWard readers a happy new year 2558 yet because of um… The AI wars of 2116 when the super intelligent computers that now rule us all deleted new year to teach us humility. Or was it the aliens that visit annually to suck on our essence like parasites and render mankind unconscious for a few days? Or maybe… I just realised I am confusing Buddhist 2558 with the actual future and the reason for that was because I had a lot to drink and I am permanently thinking about Science Fiction. Which also explains my lack of new year greetings. Sorry about that.
So without further ado – Happy New Year 2558. Or Happy 2015. Or whatever primitive year you- Oh hang on I am doing it again. This year I will drink less and write more.
After the success of Wool, Hugh Howey was facing a lot of pressure to come up with something even vaguely as good. With Sand, Howey stuck with the always fun theme of gritty post-apocalypse but reversed the world. As opposed to Wool, the poor bastard survivors of humanity now live on top of the sandy soil and spend a lot of their time trying to reach the old world that lies beneath. Principally by diving through the sand with tanks and a device that hardens the sand around them to form a kind of tunnel thing – it doesn’t matter, they dive ok?
The story in the Sand Omnibus kicks off with the discovery of the legendary buried city of Danvar. Everyone wants in on this and as society is pretty lawless, there are a lot of pirates/bandits/ne’er-do-wells all fighting for a bit of the action. The plot is told from the point of view of a family – two of which are “sand divers”, and the others are all likeable and pretty smart. The characters of each are fleshed out nicely and you really empathise with their situation and this in turn makes the world more believable.
Like with Wool, Sand by Hugh Howeyhas a great cast of characters, is well written, and has an intriguing premise with lots of word-building and mystery. In my opinion the end felt a tiny bit rushed, but it didn’t really impact on the story itself or create any dissatisfaction. I guess I just wanted a bit more. I liked Sand a lot and have no hesitation in recommending it. Howey is a good writer and I look forward to his next book. Which will presumably be a post-apocalyptic tale set in floating sky-ballon communities as the Earth has been poisoned for some mysterious reason – but a plucky group reckon that we can actually live on the surface and against all odds unearth a huge secret. And so on.
I seem to be posting a lot of trailers recently, so I should apologise. On the other hand, the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer is possibly one of the best trailers ever, so what can I do? Even ignoring my love of Mad Max movies (although that should mostly read Mad Max 2), it’s a mini masterpiece. Enjoy.
If you haven’t seen The Cabin in the Woods then this short video will be utterly meaningless to you. Which is a shame because you are now missing out on two great bits of video.
In this clip from the good people at www.goodbadflicks.com, you can see every horror reference in The Cabin in the Woods – and there are a ridiculous amount of them. I guess the title made that pretty self explanatory but I thought I would stress what you are in for. I am now feeling a need to watch the movie again. Enjoy.
Darth Vader is played by a lot of actors. In the original trilogy David Prowse was actual Darth, while his voice was done by the brilliant vocal talent of James Earl Jones. There was also some other guy when the helmet came off and the actors in the newer trilogy – but they aren’t anything to do with what I am talking about today. Besides none of them really count as the Darth Vader we all know and admire.
What a lot of people may not know is that Prowse actually said all of Vader’s lines for acting purposes even though everyone was aware that he would eventually be voiced over. Well, the original recording is available thanks to the good old internet. As the video below shows, Darth Vader before the voice over was a hell of a lot less cool when he had a west country English accent.
I plugged my superb travel book over at The Word of Ward the other day, so I thought I might as well plug my Science Fiction short story collection here. The Uneven Passage of Time is a small, inexpensive collection of stories that revolve around the theme of time. And the passage through it.
So if any Americans happen to read this (and I know you do – thousands a day in fact) and you haven’t bought The Uneven Passage of Time then give it a go! It’s cheap! Then leave a review! It’s fun! And so on. Here is the blurb:
Time, famously, is relative. In this trio of short stories journalist and fiction writer Jason R. Ward looks at three individuals and their unorthodox journeys through time. Although they deal with travelling through time, they all take place in the present. These entertaining tales blend the themes of psychology and perception with classic science fiction.
Stephen Hawking once sent out dinner invitations to all future time travellers. No one turned up. But what if one had? In ‘A Date to Remember’ a young physicist is convinced he has worked out the secret to building a time travel device. Lacking the resources to construct the machine he sets a time and date for a meeting with his future self.
It is a truism that people remember the big events in life and forget the repetitive. For most people, their year skips by unnoticed, punctuated by birthdays, world events, big personal milestones or traumatic events. As you age life seems to speed up and you find that the years seem to fly past. ‘As Time Goes By’ is the story of Frank Gilbert who is experiencing this to the extreme. His time seems to be accelerating at an abnormal rate. Years of his repetitive life seem to go by in days. Can he break the cycle in time?
The final and longest short story is ‘The Man Who Loved Statues’. Captain Michael Pike is a man who has taken a bit of hammering in life. With nothing much to live for he volunteers for an experiment that is going to attempt to alter his passage through time and put him in stasis. Things don’t go quite according to plan.
#3 Science Fiction Short Stories
#7 Short Stories
So there you go. In case I haven’t linked to it enough, here are some more: