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.

Every Horror Reference in The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the WoodsIf 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 before the voice over

Darth Vader before the voice over was David Prowse

Prowse is Vader

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.

The Uneven Passage of Time

The-Uneven-Passage-of-Time-cover-finalI 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.

I have a ton of reviews on the UK Amazon site but none on the US Amazon site.

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:

The Great Martian World War

marsworldwarThe Great Martian World War is a documentary from the History Channel. I really felt like I should establish that first to give the whole thing a bit of gravitas. As far as I can tell it is basically a way to explain the First World War to people who are shallow or young. Which is kind of a noble thing right? The idea is this (from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3199240/):

“Documentary-drama recounting the Martian War of 1913 – 1917. Europe was on tenterhooks in the 2nd decade of the 20th century, everyone was expecting a Great War between the major European powers. But then, in 1913, something crashed into the forests of SW Germany. Troops were sent to investigate but were wiped out. Martian fighting machines began making their way across Western Europe and the countries of Europe combined forces to resist them. With aspects taken from “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells and from WWI itself, this dramatisation presents a documentary style look at events as they unfolded and the effect they had of our world today. Lots of references to real events including the mass attacks and defeats as men were thrown against machines on the Western front, the Christmas truce and the Angel of Mons, America’s isolationism and late entry into the conflict, the worldwide “Spanish” flu epidemic that killed more people than the war, and many other things.”

More info about the Great Martian World War can be found here: http://www.history.co.uk/shows/the-great-martian-war. Here is the trailer:

There have been a lot of foul, terrifying wars but WW1 is in the public eye right now with the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak. It is synonymous with innocence lost and a new type of conflict. WW1 was awful. The documentary was designed as a kind of desperate attempt to make kids (of whom a staggering percentage couldn’t tell you the century, let alone the participants) be slightly interested. The main battles are included so education and stuff happens. Remembrance is a good thing.

So with that all established, I give you a fan made video introducing the documentary with heavyish techno. It’s comes with a great soundtrack that basically works as an intro the the documentary. If you feel sad and a bit shocked about the devastation and reality of the horror faced by the people involved, then that is normal. It was an horrendous waste.

Great martian war from PLAZMA on Vimeo.