Author Archives: ward

TIE fighter wars short film

TiefighterThis has been all over the internet already but in case you missed it, here is the much discussed TIE fighter wars short film by Paul Johnson. Basically, the premise is to show a Star Wars space battle from the point of view of the Empire and TIE fighter pilots, done in the style of 80s anime. It is superbly animated.

To be honest I am not a 100% keen on the music but given it’s harking back to a Gundam-esque style of animation, I guess it fits.Anyway, who cares. This is great. Go TIE fighters! Go Empire!

 

Chrononauts optical illusion

First off, take a look at the cover of this new Mark Millar and Sean Murphy comic called Chrononauts. Look at the watch on the left. What do you see? 1 in 15 people will see something different. More on the Chrononauts optical illusion later…

What do you see in the watch face?

What do you see in the watch face?

As I am a bit of a nerd, I still get excited on ‘new comic day’. When I was younger, this meant a trip to the local comic book shop where you would meet all the other cool froods who were similarly into such exciting literature. Now, it just means an email from Comixology letting me know what’s new and then me going online to buy digital copies. But you can still chat to the cool froods in forums and on sites like twitter, which is also where you can find out cool things about the comics and related topics. What’s even better is that the comic artists and writers join in, raising the tone and generally being quite interesting. Which brings me, long-windedly, to the Chrononauts optical illusion.

In the watch face you will see one of the following:

1/ A broken watch face. (What I saw.)

2/ A green hourglass.

Apparently only one person in fifteen will see the hourglass. It’s the comic book fan version of the stupid ‘colour of the dress’ debate. The artist, Sean Gordon Murphy, chimed in on Twitter to explain:

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 7.27.20 pmI don’t know if this is a cunning bit of marketing and there is no optical illusion but I thought I would share just in case it true. If it is an evil marketing trick then kudos Mr Murphy, I like your style.

Tomorrowland trailer looks intriguing

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

I saw an earlier Tomorrowland trailer and thought it looked ok. George Clooney is nearly always good value and the science fiction element looked intriguing, but it didn’t seem all that special. Well the new Tomorrowland trailer looks even more interesting and my intrigued-o-meter has risen.

The premise of there being a world that runs parallel to our own has been done before – I was immediately reminded of Baxter/Pratchett’s (slightly disappointing) The Long Earth series or The Talisman by King/Straub. But Tomorrowland seems really cool, with an almost retro scifi feel to it. This feeling is enhanced by a couple of clips that were released separately – more on that in a second. The film also has Hugh Laurie, who is worth a watch. I don’t know his role in Tomorrowland but if he speaks with an American accent, he’s a good guy; with his natural English accent, he’s a baddie. Sorry if that turns out to be a spoiler, I’m just guessing. Anyway, here is the Tomorrowland trailer:

I think it looks pretty damn good.
The idea is that a secret society called Plus Ultra was founded by Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, and H.G. Wells in 1889. They then went to live in a hidden city. On Youtube and Twitter there is a great conspiracy type account called Stop Plus Ultra that has already released a couple of videos. There’s also a website. The Youtube channel is here. The first video is great:

The second one is interesting but a bit long. For some reason, it reminds me of a recruitment drive for the underwater city of Rapture in the Bioshock games.

I’m a sucker for these kind of viral marketing techniques and have been ever seen the internet excitement that surrounded The Blair Witch Project. It remains to be seen whether the film is any good, but until then check out the STOP PLUS ULTRA website. Like most conspiracy theories it is untrue but I so want it to be real: STOP PLUS ULTRA blog.
Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 8.58.35 am

New Power Rangers short

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 11.24.45 AMDo you remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? If so, poor you. It sucked. I recently worked for a kids TV channel and had to watch a ton of the different Power Rangers on a daily basis and they were all dire. I grew up in Hong Kong and masked heroes from the 70s on kids’ TV were generally a lot cooler – Gatchaman, Masked Rider V3, and so on.

If you never saw the Power Rangers, the basic story is this: an evil alien witch, who had been imprisoned in a space container, escapes and decides to attack the nearest planet – Earth. Usually using robots or weird creatures. Another alien picks five teenagers and gives them the power to morph into a giant robot. They could also fight really well, which is what you want in a load of angsty teenagers.

Got that? Right. Well here is a short film starring Katie ‘Starbuck’ Sackoff, and James Van Der ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Beek in a gritty reimagining of how the whole story may have played out, if the annoying Power Rangers grew up to be attractive adults twisted by a life a violence. This new Power Rangers short movie is pretty well done, given the source material. Enjoy.

 

Cloud Rise short film

Cloud Rise

Cloud Rise is a superb animated short film by writer/director/producer/animator Denver Jackson. He spent 4 moths of his life putting this all together and crowdsourced the money needed to get the actors and sound recordist he wanted. I think it’s pretty amazing that a driven individual can do this sort of thing and am happy to provide support by showing the video.

There really isn’t any need to say any more. If you want more information about the Indiegogo campaign and the story behind it all, click here.

Watch the whole video as the story develops and the art is great. Hopefully Mr Jackson will be encouraged to do more. Here is Cloud Rise. Enjoy:

 

 

Robots on Film

Sexy Metropolis robot

This two and a half minute clip shows almost a hundred years’ worth of robots on film and is pretty damn cool. Everyone loves a robot and I’m gutted the nearest I am likely to get to owning one in the next five years is if I buy a robot vacuum cleaner. Personally I think the robots from Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet still hold up pretty well. But then I am a fan of all three films and may be a bit biased. Anyway, here are some robots on film. So many scifi classics… so little time… Enjoy!

The Expanse TV series trailer

TheExpanseLogoThe 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:

Dune by Frank Herbert

dune_frank_herbertTo 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.

By it on Kindle here:

 

Happy New Year 2558

Happy new year!

Happy new year!

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.

Be Merry! Make it so.

Be Merry! Make it so.

Sand by Hugh Howey

Sand by Hugh Howey

Sand by Hugh Howey

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 Howey has 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 digress. Conclusion: Sand is great. Read it.