I know I am a day late but I was reading and playing games. Which are pretty good excuses. Happy new year!
2016 has been a mostly crappy time for nearly all involved, but in terms of science fiction it has has been pretty great. So turn off your news feeds (and especially your fake news feeds,) a bit more often and enjoy a healthy dose of escapism. It has been proved that it is good for you by science. Probably. Google it.
Without further ado, Happy New Year from Scifi Ward! 2017 sounds incredibly futuristic to someone in their 40s and I look forward to enjoying it. I am now off to read the latest Expanse book followed by finishing Dirk Gently on Netflix. Make it so!
Happy Christmas from the mothership of Scifi Ward! I hope you all got the box sets and books you so richly deserve. If you got a kindle feel free to um… look to the right and um… buy a short story… You would make a scifi story writer very happy.
No matter what you believe in and whatever planet you personally hail from, I hope you have a superb day. Happy Christmas!
Happy Christmas. Live long and prosper. Drink eggnog.
Under a Tell Tale Sky by RE McDermott is a Post Apocalyptic novel from someone who normally writes thrillers. In fact, he seems almost apologetic about the fact that it is scifi. The tale recounts a scenario that might happen if a massive EMP pulse hit the Earth and fucked the electric grid. This is book one of a trilogy and the man has done his research in regards to the USA and probably most of the developed world. The conclusion is pretty dire and highly believable.
You would think that a colossal blackout would involve a few more candles and some tinned food, which would suck a bit but not too bad. On the plus side there will be massively fewer twats taking selfies, photographing their food and blocking pavements because they are looking at their phones the whole sodding time. So no power would seem a net plus right? Sadly no. As McDermott logically and realistically shows, society would break down pretty quickly. Modern Western society is held together by hope, a desire to not be harmed by others and live in a safe society, and some pretty flimsy string. (The latter is a metaphor for something or other.) As rioters frequently show, it is actually harder to control an unruly populace than you’d suppose – even if you shoot shit at them. Without power, things fast become post apolcalyptic.
Under a Tell Tale Sky is set in America, so any apocypse or societal breakdown is going to include an arseload of guns. The story revolves around numerous characters but the principle protagonists are all based around a huge cargo ship and a container port. There are quite a few characters and sub-plots but they are all well done and believable. The story is exciting and develops well. No ground breaking philosophical questions going on here, just decent action and good fun.
I really enjoyed Under a Tell Tale Sky and immediately bought the sequel once I finished it. It is part of a series called ‘The Disruption’. I recommend it for scifi and non-scifi fans alike.
I wasn’t going to post another trailer so soon but it’s Spiderman! It’s a reboot, so the first one of the series will definitely be good. Also, it is now under the lovely Marvel umbrella and frankly, they can’t seem to go wrong at the moment. Here you go – Spiderman: Homecoming.
This looks great! The new Mummy film has certainly taken a different stance from the Brendan Fraser version which, given the last one in China, was probably a good thing.
Tom Cruise is always reliable and even this short trailer is pretty damned thrilling. It also stars Russell Crowe, who is consistently good, and Sofia Boutella – the hot lady with blades for legs in Kingsman and the hot alien in Star Trek Beyond – who is consistently hot.
The Mummy isn’t due out until June 2017 and has been interestingly described as not only a reboot of the franchise, but also the first film of the Universal Monster Cinematic Universe. There are plans to make Frankenstein’s monster, Count Dracula, Wolf Man, Gill-man, the Invisible Man and even the Creature from the Black Lagoon (first 3D film I ever saw). Let’s hope this goes better than DC’s stuttering start to a universe. More info about the film here.
The new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is here and I am mighty excited. It looks great. I hope they don’t play up baby Groot for cuteness too much but I have complete faith in everyone involved. The film isn’t released until May 2017 which feels like a hell of a long time away. They could at least release what will probably be an awesome soundtrack first, but it is unlikely.
Anyway, here is the second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Looks fun.
This has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages. Thankfully I bought it on kindle – Amazon warns you if you have already bought a book and I have almost accidentally bought Ancillary Justice several times now.
A bit of background. Ann Leckie’s tale is set in the far future where a human species called the Radchai are aggressively expanding through space. They are ruled by someone called Anaandar Mianaai, who has thousands of gentetically linked bodies. Their modus operandi is to continually expand by conquering a planet, winning over all the important nobility types and suppressing everyone else. Anyone who resists is either killed or turned into a kind of corpse soldier.
Thrown into this scenario is a pretty interesting protagonist called Breq. Spaceships are controlled by AIs and these ships also have ancillary troops made up of the aforementioned corpse soldiers. These soldiers are also controlled by the the AI of the vessel they serve and all have modifications that make them pretty tough in a scrap.
For reasons we don’t know at the start, the AI of a vessel known as the Justice of Torren is now reduced to just being just one ancillary soldier – Breq. What happened to the ship and all the other ancillaries is a mystery. Breq is on a mission to kill Anaander Mianaai and there is clearly something wrong going on with the Radchai as a whole.
Ancillary Justice is a great read. I can see why it won so many awards – the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C Clarke Awards, to be precise. The world, customs and characters are well thought out and the writing is good. I was worried at first that the constant use of the pronoun ‘she’ for everyone would get annoying. Breq doesn’t really understand gender and has trouble distinguishing male from female, so calls everyone she. But actually it’s fine.
My only real gripe with the book that it is quite unevenly paced. There are some pretty slow moments followed by scenes where a ton of exciting things go on. When things happen, it is superb but then there will be a period where people are just chilling and worrying about gloves and tea.
Having said that, the book is well paced enough that I read it in a couple of days and it has weirdly stuck in my head ever since. If you fancy a space opera that is a little different from the norm, then Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is definitely worth a try. The next two books of the trilogy are already on my kindle.
I haven’t reviewed a TV show in a while and as I have been binge watching Rick and Morty on Netflix recently, I might as well do that.
Rick and Morty is an animated science fiction comedy on Adult Swim. It follows the adventures of a genius alcoholic scientist and his grandson – Rick and Morty respectively. It is, to cut a long review short, absolutely brilliant. While it may not be quite as laugh out loud funny as Futurama (the obvious comparison), the scifi ideas and concepts explored are superb, thoughtful and generally pretty fun. Futurama has some pretty cool ideas but Rick and Morty explore slightly different areas.
Among other things, the show explores the idea of multi-dimensional existence. Rick, Morty, and sometimes the older sister Summer, are always popping through portals and occasionally meeting other versions of themselves. At times the show can be quite bleak in a nothing really matters and everything is just chance, kind of way. This existentialist element can get a bit much for some I guess, but I like it. Some quite violent stuff happens to some of the characters, even the main ones, but it doesn’t really matter in a multiverse. Rick frequently destroys entire worlds but if you can just pop to another universe where everyone is ok, it becomes hard to care. Rick in particular is massively selfish, amoral, and just enjoys science without much thought to consequence.
I am getting a slightly deep but basically, if you like science fiction that explores philosophy and deep scifi ideas, but also has drunk people, chases and lots of aliens, then Rick and Morty is worth a watch. I love it. It is on Netflix but you should be able to find it elsewhere if you are vaguely intelligent. Season 3 is due out sometime soon-ish.
To give you an example of the sort of thing you can expect, here is a brief clip that is vaguely reminiscent of Star Trek Next Generation episode “The Inner Light”. Just to give you an insight into the moral ambiguity of Rick, just before this clip, he had invented an incredible gun which he then sold to a hit-man so he could play games.
While I’m at it, here is a Rick and Morty in the Simpsons couch gag. Enjoy:
The new Ghost in the Shell movie has its first full length trailer and I have to say it looks incredible (as does Johansson). It is not out until March 2017, which seems a painfully long time away but at least we have Star Wars to fill the gap.
I haven’t seen the original film in 20 years, so I am a bit hazy on what happens but after having watched the shiny new trailer, I don’t really care. It was bound to change a bit. Here’s the trailer:
Pretty awesome right? I highly recommend the original Ghost in the Shell anime. Someone has actually posted the entire movie on Youtube but you really should buy/rent a copy. It is on all streaming sites. There is also a TV series. If this is successful it might finally pave the way for Akira, who knows. Right, I feel an anime binge coming on.
This will be the last thing I post about Star Wars: Rogue One before it comes out. I wasn’t even going to post this trailer/spot and tried to avoid watching it. But then I got bored at work and gave in. It’s only 30 seconds and I think I have seen most of the footage already but I still got a little excited. So I might as well share.