I have had The Martian by Andy Weir on my kindle for a while now. I had heard it was good and that it was about an astronaut stranded on Mars but for some reason that hadn’t sounded as appealing as it should and was on my ‘I will eventually get round to that’ list. I don’t know why, I love science but I am incredibly complex. Then the first trailer came out for the movie and I thought it looked amazing. I put that out on this very website and a lot of friends I respect mentioned how great the book was.
So I gave it a go. The next day I was done and if I didn’t have a job, I would have been done sooner. The Martian is a brilliant book. Absolutely superb. It has probably leapt onto my list of favourite books ever and I feel a bit of a dick for not having read it before.
Ok, here is a synopsis. A short one. Mark Watney is an astronaut and he gets stranded on Mars. That is all you need to know.
The characterisation is superb and the story is told in a mixture of 1st and 3rd person.
The Martian is one of the few books where you feel confident that the science is spot on, and shows you how important and incredible it can be. It is also one of the very few books that genuinely made me laugh out loud.
Apart from things like Alternate History, Star Wars, and science fiction written in the past about a date that was the future then, but in the past now, (like 1984,) and a ton of other exceptions, most scifi is set in the future. Sometimes the deep future. I saw this infographic the other day and it is plotted and designed well enough that I thought I would share. It also includes a surprising amount of stuff that I haven’t read.
There are quite a few things that I would include but maybe they are problematic. SPOILERS FOR TONS OF THINGS AHEAD… Obvious inclusions to me would be start with Battlestar Galactica (recent version) or some Stargate related mythology (there are books, so it counts). I would then end with Restaurant at the End of the Universe or even better, Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time (which kind of finishes beyond the end of the Universe). Also, some of Stephen Baxter‘s work ends with intelligences mining the last black holes after the end of stars and in Star Trek, Q has taken people to the extremes of time, although maybe not in books. Now I think about it, James Blish’s Cities in Flight ends with immortal humans checking out the end of the universe. Even Dune isn’t mentioned. But having nerded out on all that, the infographic is interesting.
Han Solo claimed the Millennium Falcon could do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. Which is presumably a speed race with the winner being the spaceship that can go the furthest distance in a specific time, as a parsec is a measurement of distance. But Han Solo lived ages ago. Plus, it is possible that he and the Falcon are fictional.
What about other space going vessels that may or may not be real? Which one of them is the fastest spaceship in the universe? I have literally fallen asleep pondering this.
The good people at Fat Wallet have come up with a handy chart, rating tons of known fiction/non-fiction space ships for speed. The first half are rated by how much G they pull on acceleration. Once the speeds go past that of light (at which point we are talking probable fiction), then they are rated by light seconds.
I should point out I disagree with a few of these. What about when navigators in Dune fold space, or popping into another dimension, or using wormholes? I’m thinking Skylark of Space, Babylon 5, DS9, Stargate (when a shuttle goes through a gate) and many more.
However, the fastest spaceship is unlikely but totally correct – you’ll see what I mean. I found this fun, so thought I would share.
If you have Netflix and are even vaguely interested in superheroes, then you have probably already seen Daredevil and are probably a huge fan. I could cut this review short and just say ‘Daredevil is awesome!’ but it is one of my charming personality traits that I like to waffle on a bit.
In case you are unlucky enough to have not read any of the comics – or lucky enough to have missed the Ben Affleck movie – a quick origin story is necessary. When Matt Murdock (Daredevil) was a kid he unfortunately got radioactive waste spilled onto his eyes. As all comic book fans know, radioactive anything is great and always gives you superpowers of some kind. In Matt Murdock’s case, all his other senses get massively enhanced. Having a crap is presumably an horrendous experience, but generally speaking his new powers make him pretty amazing.
Matt also becomes a lawyer. He deals righteous justice as the Daredevil and as a lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
Kingpin aka Wilson Fisk
One of the great things about the Netflix Daredevil show is that they take their time introducing the backstory, spreading it over several episodes. Frankly, I am bored of origin stories and the advantage of a TV series is that nothing is hurried. You don’t even meet the main bad guy – Kingpin (aka Wilson Fisk) until around episode three. Which is a shame because he is superbly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, but this is made up for with a ton of screen time later. Actually, all the actors are great, as is the script.
The fight scenes are well done too and there are moments when I found myself wincing in sympathy as Daredevil gets the shit kicked out him at various points. He really takes a beating. A very well choreographed beating.
Anyway, no need to labour my point. I loved Daredevil, but it took me a couple of episodes to get into it. Basically, from when Kingpin entered the series. Then I was hooked and pretty much binge-watched the rest. Here is a lovely trailer.
This may not be of interest to everyone but I have found that Scifi fans are frequently fantasy fans. I know I am. So if you are looking for something new read, then what better way than a shortlist of the best British Fantasy? (Apart from perhaps a world shortlist.) Without further ado:
The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic 2, ed. Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber (The Alchemy Press)
Horror Uncut: Tales of Social Insecurity and Economic Unease, ed. by Joel Lane and Tom Johnstone (Gray Friar Press)
Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue, ed. Christie Yant (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Spectral Book of Horror Stories, ed. Mark Morris (Spectral Press)
Terror Tales of Wales, ed. Paul Finch (Gray Friar Press)
Sarah Anne Langton
Black Gods Kiss, Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)
The Bright Day Is Done, Carole Johnstone (Gray Friar Press)
Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine Publications)
Nick Nightmare Investigates, Adrian Cole (The Alchemy Press and Airgedlámh Publications)
Scruffians! Stories of Better Sodomites, Hal Duncan (Lethe Press)
Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Cemetery Girl, Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden and Don Kramer (Jo Fletcher Books)
Grandville Noël, Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Seconds, Bryan Lee O’Malley (SelfMadeHero)
Through the Woods, Emily Carroll (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The Wicked + The Divine, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image Comics)
The Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel
Breed, KT Davies (Fox Spirit Books)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)
It has been rumoured for months but the third Star Trek film of the reboot is going to be called “Star Trek Beyond”. Justin Lin, who is now the director, confirmed it on Twitter along with a new picture. It’s not the most exciting picture, but filming doesn’t start until next week, so I guess they don’t have a lot to share.
The script is by Doug Jung and Simon Pegg and will apparently hark back to the sense of adventure found in the original Star Trek series. I hope so. I suspect it won’t be one of the ones where they visit a planet that has evolved to be exactly like Rome or 1930s Chicago though. Also, Spock’s brain will probably remain in his head. Hopefully it will be something original. Or somewhere in between, like a being that is much more powerful and hard to understand or even better – a fight with a Gorn.
Star Trek Beyond is produced J.J. Abrams and is scheduled for a July 8, 2016 release.
The Martian is a new film starring Matt Damon. It’s based on the best-selling book The Martian by Andy Weir and the trailer looks pretty damn good. I have to admit, I haven’t read the book but the movie trailer has made me want to. Which reminds me – I need to read more. The Martian – add to basket.
Bethesda has finally released a Fallout 4 trailer and I am officially very excited. There have been rumours circulating the interweb for years. Fallout 3 came out in 2008 and Fallout: New Vegas in 2010, so we were due something new any decade now.
Although there is no release date at the moment, the world premiere of Fallout 4 will be broadcast live on both Youtube and Twitch on the 14th June at 7pm PST. This is 3am UK time on the 15th. Or 9am in Thailand were I am writing this.
I loved Fallout 3 and New Vegas, (and Oblivion and Skyrim,) and have full faith in Bethesda. I suspect this will be very similar except it will be much bigger, have better graphics, and be set in Boston. Without further ado, here is the Fallout 4 trailer:
I don’t care what you think of me, I quite enjoyed the Minority Report movie. Right up until most of the ending when it all turned to treacle and was all ‘Spielberg-nice-and-huggy-and-happy’ and shite. I hated the end of that film. I would like to have seen Tom Cruise successfully do his thing, but the pre-cogs get caught and go back under into that pool thing, trapped with no freedom but stopping murders and helping society. This way you have a bit of a moral dilemma. Obviously someone like Spock would just say, ‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. So fuck’em.’ And I guess he’d be right.
I digress, but only a bit. As the title suggests, there is going to be a Minority Report TV show where one of the pre-cogs is roaming around and gets a bit of a vision but not enough to solve much. Society is going back to being all “murdery” as the pre-cogs had escaped. It seems he will team up with police woman and they will solve crimes. So quirky guy and no-nonense, hot, kickass female cop form an unlikely bond. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, Castle, The Mentalist, Sleepy Hollow, etc. I actually enjoy most of the times this pairing happens in TV shows, so I’ll allow it.
This post was originally twice the length as it descended into a rant about big budget scifi being cancelled after a series or two but I will save that treat for another time. Hopefully this will be good and will last. To be fair, it actually looks alright. Here is the Minority Report TV trailer:
The Syfy channel and Spielberg’s Amblin Television have just announced that they are going to make a TV show based on Aldous Huxley’s superb Brave New World. I have to admit, I have mixed emotions about this – and most of those emotions are negative.
On the one hand, I can’t help but get excited when a novel I like is being turned into a film or TV show. On the other hand, I have been disappointed the vast majority of the time. I know I recently got fairly excited by the prospect of The Expanse coming to TV, but the books are written so visually that I can almost see the TV show in my head. On the third hand, Brave New World is pretty much a novella and short stories can make great TV/films as they can go with the idea and not be too beholden to the source material. On the fourth – alright, bollocks to the whole ‘hand’ thing – another point is the fact that the best novellas are the length they are because they have a precise story in mind that is longer than a short story but has a definite end. A Brave New World has a definite end.
I’m a huge Orwell fan. Animal Farm and 1984 were perfectly complete stories that were far too long for a short story, but not quite book length. They were the length they needed to be for the finite tale they told. The same goes for the perfectly written The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. (All of these have actually translated quite well into films as the novella is perfect film length.)
I just don’t think a Brave New World will translate into great TV. They should make it a movie or fixed-length mini-series. I guess we shall see.