Author Archives: ward

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

I didn’t mean to post another trailer but the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer is out and it looks damned awesome fun. It’s quite nice to have something a bit more non-gritty just-for-fun comic book based action. Obviously I will still be tremendously excited by the new X-men movie and possibly Superman vs Batman – although I will hold opinion on the latter until nearer the time. Refreshingly, Guardians of the Galaxy looks like it doesn’t take itself too seriously and as a bonus is full of space battles and the lovely Zoe Saldana being a sexy green assassin. Enjoy!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I seem to be having a bit of a trailer bonanza here at the moment. I blame the movie/TV industry for releasing a lot of good looking stuff. The last trailer was for Star Wars: Rebels, which is a kid’s thing on Disney that may or may not be relatively fun, it’s hard to tell.

This new trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes however, looks fucking awesome! It is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes which was brilliant. So this probably will be too because er… sequels are erm… often as good as the originals… um.

Actually, I’m perpetuating a myth. There are tons of sequels as good as the original, if not better. To name a few in just the scifi genre: Empire Strikes Back, Mad Max 2, Aliens (first one was excellent but completely different), Blade 2, Superman 2, Star Trek 2, Evil Dead 2, Dawn of the Dead, the Dark Knight, Spiderman 2, and so on.

If you include the original five Planet of the Apes movies, then I can confidently predict that this new one will be at least in the top 3. So with that proved, here is the new trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:

 

Star Wars: Rebels

 Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

For a brief second I was a bit shocked by the news that Disney had bought Star Wars but then I remembered that they had been responsible for all the recent Marvel movies. They also made Tron: Legacy which wasn’t very good (and I have forgotten everything that happens in it already) but it looked and sounded great. The first Pirates of the Caribbean was fun and – I don’t care what you say – I even enjoyed John Carter of Mars (the books were pretty daft but enjoyable too, in case you are bored).

So why not let them do Star Wars? It’s not like Lucas was going to steer the series to a dark and brooding universe. I have more faith in someone involved with The Avengers than I do with someone involved with Ewoks or Jarjar or Darth crying ‘Noooooooooo!’ I know they are kids films but if you are old enough to have watched the original trilogy (not including bastard Ewoks) you will understand how disappointing the new trilogy was. Not to mention the constant tinkering / ruining of the originals. Han shot first! If you saw the newer films first then you are approaching the series from a different mindset and are probably wrong about everything relating to Star Wars.

This mild, heavily edited rant brings me nicely to Star Wars: Rebels. It is animated, you know, for kids. Or Young Adults – whatever they are. It teeters dangerously close to being a bit too childlike  and cutesy but it could be fun and might help fill in the time until Star Wars VII comes out. On the other hand it might make you feel sick and anxious about the direction it is all taking. A feeling I got the first time I watched an Ewok defeat a helmeted soldier of a galaxy-conquering army by dropping some rocks on his/her head.

Alright, I’ll lighten up. This is for the kids out there. Here is the trailer:

Hugo Award 2014 Nominees Announced

Hugo AwardThe nominees for the Hugo Award 2014 have been announced. If you read a lot of science fiction then this should be fairly exciting news. If nothing else, it should give you some ideas for your next bit of reading (some of which is free – see below).

There is a lot of good stuff here and I am pleased to say, what with my finger being on scifi’s throbbing pulse, I have quite a lot of this stuff on my kindle waiting to be read. With the exception of Vox Day as I don’t like him as a person and will never bother with anything he does (google him.)

Like the Oscars there are a lot of categories which can all be found on the official Hugo Award website. Listed below are the main Hugo Award nominees in the main categories I care most about. Excitingly all the stuff that was published by Tor.com is available for free download or can be read on their awesome website. Read the Tor.com stuff here.

Here are the four Hugo Award categories I am most interested in and the nominees:

Best Novel (1595 nominating ballots)

  • Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
  • Parasite, Mira Grant (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Larry Correia (Baen Books)
  • The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

Best Novella (847 nominating ballots)

  • The Butcher of Khardov, Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
  • “The Chaplain’s Legacy”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
  • “Equoid”, Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
  • “Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

Best Novelette (728 nominating ballots)

  • “Opera Vita Aeterna”, Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
  • “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
  • “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com/Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
  • “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

Best Short Story (865 nominating ballots)

  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
  • “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
  • “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

The winners are to be announced at Loncon3 in London on Sunday 17 August 2014. Read on!

James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series to be a Syfy TV show

The Expanse series

The Expanse series

Previously on this site I have highly recommended the James S.A. Corey Expanse series. Because it is fucking awesome. So far three of the books are out, with a fourth due this summer. Read my review of the first book here. The two books that follow are just as good, so you really have a treat in store if you haven’t discovered them yet.

Excitingly, Syfy have just confirmed that they are going to be making the Expanse series into a TV show with each book equalling 10 episodes, much like Game of Thrones. I know Syfy makes and produces some awful shite, like the stuff they do with Asylum movies (although they can be fun), but keep in mind that they also made Eureka, Alphas, and, much more importantly – the new version of Battlestar Galactica.

In Corey’s Expanse books no one zips about faster than light so they are all confined to the solar system. The solar system system is still epically massive though, and the series manages to be pretty exciting space opera with fleets of spaceships and exotic moon bases and so on, all while remaining in familiar, realistic surroundings. The Expanse setting is a believable one and consequently everyone lives in cramped, industrial type conditions while floating through the vast expanses of space. In other words, conditions like the ships in Battlestar. (Or Firefly.) So Syfy might do a good job here if you share my optimism that they will be more BSG and a lot less Sharknado.

Also, the writers – James S. A. Corey is actually two talented fellows called Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck – seem to be able to knock out one Expanse book a year (unlike other series I could mention), so this could run for a while. Quite frankly there aren’t enough decent Science Fiction shows on right now and this one is actually going to be in space! Recently I’ve been having to watch Firefly, BSG, Farscape, Stargate and Trek repeats just to get my space scifi fix.

Hopefully that will change. No pressure Syfy….

 

Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven’s Shadow by Anthony Ryan


I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy recently as I am, like thousands of others, writing a fantasy novel. Fantasy was one of my favourite genres throughout my teens (science fiction predictably being another). It was all sparked by a mixture of reading Conan the Barbarian books and comics and also by the fact that I grew up in the 80s and played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. My childhood was awesome.

Apart from A Game of Thrones and Joe Abercrombie I haven’t really read many new fantasy authors as I have been reading a lot more scifi and historical fiction. So after perusing Amazon (sorry bookshops but your fantasy sections are usually lacking), I came across a new author that seemed to have ridiculously good reviews. His name is Anthony Ryan and the book was his debut novel Blood Song: Book 1 of Raven’s Shadow.

Blood Song revolves around a character called Vaelin al Sorna. The book begins with his dad dropping him off at a school that turns out to be the military wing of the Order. These guys are more than just soldiers though – they are the SAS of their particular Kingdom and Vaelin is the best of them.

The first half of Blood Song is basically just Vaelin and his mates at school. Kind of like a violent Harry Potter. It well enough written that you want to keep going with it and by the second half it really starts to pay off. There are a lot of hints that there is more going on. Politically, the King might not be so great and his daughter might also be up to something (as she is hot and therefore suspicious). The Order itself might not be so great ethically and keeps its fair share of secrets. The element of magic is also slowly weaved into the narrative and there are hints of destiny and things going on that I can’t explain without giving too much away.

These added elements make what was feeling a bit of a ‘been there seen that before’ fantasy tale into something a bit deeper. I’m not necessarily saying deep, but by the end I was sufficiently satisfied that interesting things are afoot.

The characters are great and believable with a variety of individual needs and character arcs. The story is well told and written. The fact that the Faith of the Order is one that worships the spirits of the dead and believes that they are being guided and supported by them is an interesting twist because this allows them to justify killing infidels who believe in a deity.

If you like fantasy books you will very probably enjoy Blood Song. Anthony Ryan spins a good yarn which, although at first feels pretty similar and unoriginal slowly evolves into a pretty damn good story. It certainly had me hooked and I have preordered the sequel. Recommended.
Anthony Ryan’s Amazon US page
Anthony Ryan’s Amazon UK link
 

Jupiter Ascending trailer

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending

The new Jupiter Ascending Trailer is here and it actually looks like it might be pretty good. But as it is impossible to tell how good a film is from a trailer these days, I will reserve judgement. (I’m looking at you, Burton’s Planet of the Apes, and the Wachowski’s Matrix 2 & 3, and, obviously, Prometheus.)

This could, however, be a good trailer for a good film. Just try and ignore the pointy ears thing. Enjoy.

 

 

Real spacesuits of the future

I saw this on IO9.com and thought I would share as they are pretty damned sexy. NASA has redesigned its next range of spacesuits and they seem to be taking science fiction for inspiration. None of these designs are definite as they have to vote on which one is best in the great NASA Suit Off competition. It will be one of these three though.

The spacesuit designs are below and I have put them in order of personal preference as I’m sure NASA reads this website.

In third place, a quite workaday spacesuit that is frankly a bit dull. Although I do like the fact that the astronaut on the right seems to be holding a raygun:
Spacesuit3
In second place, a slightly niftier design. On the left is the suit for ‘working in daylight’ mode and on the right what is ‘in nightclub picking up alien chicks’ mode. I like the fact that on the right his forward leaning pose lets you imagine what he’ll look like if he is arriving by jet pack:
spacesuit2
In first place, a spacesuit form the designers behind Tron (possibly). It’s a bit baggier than in Tron to accommodate the more portly astronaut of the future. If this isn’t picked then NASA have yet again gone for function over style. Which is a shame.
spacesuit1
This is just one step away from the ultimate body hugging spandex costume of the future. When I was a young lad in the early 80s I thought that people in the future would all dress like they did in Buck Rogers.

At work, the outfits will be like Colonel Wilma Deering:

wilma deering

Colonel Wilma Deering


And in the evening they relax Princess Ardala style.
ardala

Princess Ardala

In case you are thinking that this all seems a bit sexist – you can see Buck Rogers wore the same outfit. (For his night attire you can just google.)
buck