The Legend of Conan

King Conan

It seems increasingly likely that Conan will be hitting our screens once more in The Legend of Conan. With Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the head-lopping eponymous hero’s blood caked pants! How bloody exciting is that for a life long fan of the Cimmerian adventurer?

I’ll tell you: it’s fairly exciting. Nothing more.

Apparently the new movie is going to be set 30 years after the original John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian film and will skip the events of both Conan the Destroyer and the more recent re-imagining by Jason Mamoa. So surely I should be excited. The thing is, the original movie was by far the best and it didn’t really do it for me.

I should point out here, that I have been a massive fan of Conan since the age of 10. There are few people on the planet who were more of an expert on Conan that I was by the age of 13. By that point I had read every Conan novel that existed. My Savage Sword of Conan collection still takes up a small corner of the spare room at my parent’s house.

If Milius’s movie had been a straight Barbarian fantasy movie then I would have loved it. But this was Conan and I didn’t think they had got it right. Arnie was wrong for the role. Conan was quick witted – a survivor. He wasn’t just big, he was also quick and savagely well coordinated. He could be sullen with a fierce violent anger one minute then a joyful ‘let’s have a pint and wench’ kind of guy the next. He lived life to the absolute max and oozed lady-impressing barbarian charm while doing it. Arnie just came across as big, dumb, and fairly violent. Physically, Mamoa was a much better Conan and he was better with a sword and could speak and stuff.

Having said all that, Arnie may now be almost perfect as the Barbarian King in The Legend of Conan. Few people can match his physique at his age and he still seems pretty limber for a 65 year old. He also has considerably more charisma and leadership skills thanks to Californian election charisma wizards. So I’m actually ok with him now.

The problem I have is with how the movie is likely to go. Hollywood is bollocks at moral ambiguity most of the time. Conan is a decent guy at heart but he actually really enjoys a healthy bit of violence and is very quick to stab someone in the face if they’re annoying. He’s a bit like a Barbarian James Bond but he isn’t doing it to save the World, he just does it because it’s who he is and it’s a laugh. I just don’t think they will pull that off.

But most damning of all is this from the Dark Horizons website:

“Chris Morgan (“Fast Five,” “Wanted”) has created the story and nicknames it “Conan’s Unforgiven.” He could be writing the script depending upon his scheduling as he also has to shortly pen a script for a possible seventh “Fast and Furious” film to follow the currently shooting sixth one. Morgan will also produce.” (http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/25359/arnie-returns-for-legend-of-conan)

So that’s the story and the calibre of writing they are going for. Also worrying is that it may not even be R rated.

I have waffled on a lot longer than the paragraph I intended to write. I just care that’s all. Read a Robert E. Howard Conan story and think how brilliant a Conan film could be. (They were written 80 years ago and are therefore “classics”.) I’m trying not to be excited as I know I will probably be disappointed.

Here’s a gratuitous picture for no reason except that Frank Frazetta painted a good Conan.

Conan at the end of the weekend.

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Cylons

I saw this on probably my favorite website www.io9.com (not including this one, www.thewordofward.com, and some others I pretend I don’t look at). It is a spoof song about Battlestar Galactica, one of the best TV shows ever made ever. Ever. If you disagree fine. Stick to football/x-factor/Downton Abbey and don’t mention it to me ever.
I have to warn you there are spoilers involved.
I also have to warn you, this is genius and makes me want to watch the show all over again. Enjoy.

True Skin

Here is a very cool 6 minute clip set in a futuristic Bangkok. Actually, if you haven’t been there, it is pretty much like that now. I thought at first it was a film version of The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi but it isn’t. It is just a slice of awesome. I can’t wait for this to be my life. Enjoy.
http://youtu.be/ZMVtqmYsxuI
 

Is Prometheus in the same universe as Blade Runner?

There’s a theory circulating around the cool websites I frequent, that claims Ridley Scott is linking the Blade Runner universe with the Prometheus universe. It seems pretty pointless and unnecessary but at least it will piss off the fans and make them whine all over forums. Like Prometheus did in fact. Personally I couldn’t care less but in case you do, it all started from a screenshot of an Easter egg somewhere in the DVD/Bluray release of Prometheus. Apparently. Anyway, here it is:

Note from Weyland about Tyrell?

(Thanks to http://www.firstshowing.net for the picture)

This is clearly about Tyrell from Blade Runner. So er, yes, it seems they are from the same universe.

Just a couple of nerdy points from me. There is a pkd in the top line. A reference to Philip K. Dick? Or am I reading too much into it? Also, wasn’t it J.F. Sebastian in Blade Runner who had the toys? You never actually see him die in the movie. Maybe he is hired by Weyland.

Ok, if that isn’t enough, there is an update (found here). Apparently there is another hidden clip called ‘merging Ridleyverses’ where there is a discussion about called a company Weyland-Tyrell.

Weyland-Tyrell

So now it is just downright blatant. As I said before… why not and who cares? I just hope that Ridley doesn’t go all George Lucas on us and starts dicking around with Blade Runner. I can’t keep buying different versions of the same film for one thing. Hopefully he will be content with Blade Runner 2. Perhaps this is why he chose Guy Pierce to play an old man in Prometheus, when an old man could have done it. Weyland might do a cameo.

If this is all true, and it seems likely, then I don’t fully understand the following clip. This is supposed to be a TED talk in the year 2023 featuring a younger Weyland (and a younger Guy Pierce). He never mentions replicants being offworld or anything, which is odd as Blade Runner is set in the year 2019. My ‘who cares’ attitude is now wearing a bit thin, so I will shut up now.
http://youtu.be/lpYUW0ekPSA

I’m not 100% sure about the veracity of this image but I will end with a picture I stole from a forum. It links Alien with Blade Runner. Or a lazy special effect guy worked on both films. Ok. I’m done.

Have they been linked before?

Kraken by China Mieville

Kraken by China Mieville

 

I’m a big fan of Mieville. I thought in particular Perdido Street Station and The City and The City were great reads filled with imagination and enough action to keep me at least a little bit toward the edge of my seat.

Kraken is imaginative and a lot more exciting, but for some reason it didn’t do it for me.

Here is the plot:

Billy Harrow works in a wing of the Natural History museum in London. Their main exhibit is a giant squid preserved in a huge glass container. One day, someone steals the giant squid in an impossible crime. Billy then gets caught up in a world where there are weird cults and and gods and people who can pretty much do magic.

Kraken is exciting and inventive with moments of genius. There is also no denying that Mieville is a good writer. I think part of the problem is that people seem to be able to do too much magicky stuff so that what initially seemed cool and baffling is easily explained by just saying ‘Oh yeah, someone has the power to do that’.

I also felt the book suffered because I have read a Neil Gaiman book recently and this feels like a less well thought out version of Neverwhere. (Which is great!)

If you haven’t read any Gaiman recently and you don’t mind magic as a plot device/excuse/escape and just fancy a fun sequence of chases and weirdness, then you might enjoy Kraken. I’d probably advise another Mieviille book if you are new to his stuff though.

If you feel like ignoring me, the book is available here:

In the US: Kraken
In the UK: Kraken
 

New Hobbit trailer

Well, the new trailer is here and rather predictably it looks astounding. I’m still not sure how they are going to split the Hobbit into three films given that the original book was shorter than any of the individual Lord of the Rings books. But what do I know?

Without further ado, here is the trailer:
http://youtu.be/yYz0JWJioOM
 

Mars Curiosity landing on Mars video

It has come to my attention that each of my websites has built up a loyal following of its own. They deal with different topics after all. Sometimes they cross however and I have no choice but to link to something that will be of interest to both parties. Like now.

Although this video is science, it is so cutting edge cool that it feels Scifi. Also, Science Fiction fans tend to be Science fans as they are usually smart and generally hip and cool and interested in things. So I’m posting it here too. It made me imagine what it would be like to escape from an exploding spaceship in some kind of pod and then have to parachute to the surface of an alien planet. I read Starship Troopers a long time ago but as far as I can remember they get inserted into planets in pods then parachutes. Then jetpacks as they wipe everyone out, but that doesn’t apply here.

I had seen the photos at the end of the clip before – the panoramic views and the picture of the rover from some reflection or other, but they are great and inspiring so why not see them again?

Anyway. Enjoy. Let’s all go live on Mars, it looks cool.

Douglas Adams and Doctor Who

Doctor Who is back on air – praise the Tardis! This inevitably gives me flashbacks to my childhood and the previous heyday of when Tom Baker was Doctor Who. I’m sure if you are a Scifi fan you are aware of what I am talking about. I’m also sure you are aware of HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams.

But did you know that Adams was the script editor for Doctor Who in the late 70s? Probably, you clever reader you. There is even a book called Doctor Who: Shada
which is based on an Adams script and is apparently pretty good.
All this inevitably led, as often happens in the modern world, to youtube. For your enjoyment and edification here are a couple of classic scenes with classic Douglas Adams wit. Enjoy.
Here a bit with John Cleese and art:
http://youtu.be/7mmal0PMkmI
Here’s some witty dialogue:
http://youtu.be/eSJMF7HG0sc
 

Revolution TV show

Revolution

I stumbled across this trailer the other day and it looks intriguing. The pilot is directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), produced by J.J. Abrams and created by Eric Kripke (Supernatural). So it should be ok. I could explain the premise but that is done pretty admirably in the trailer. Revolution looks pretty cool but I have two caveats:
1/ Don’t have a cheesy love thing going on between the young cast members because that will just make large sections boring. And predictable. And shit. A ‘will they or won’t they’ relationship will suffice if you have to have that kind of dynamic.
2/ Make it violent and adult. As was shown by Terra Nova making it too family friendly sucks all the tension out. And makes it predictable. And shit.

 

That’s all. Here is the trailer:
http://youtu.be/JwfCRAtkYEI

 

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester

When Gulliver ‘Gully’ Foyle is first introduced he is adrift in a crippled spaceship and although he has been there for 6 months, ‘he is not quite dead’. He’s described as having lots of potential but is generally too lethargic to actually do anything. He is also, clearly, a mega survivor. Then a spaceship called Volga flies by and sees him. He rejoices thinking he is saved. But when the Volga ignores him and sails off we start to see some of that potential being realised because Gully Foyle becomes a transformed man. A raging, driven, unstoppable, mental bastard, to be precise. Foyle vows revenge on the Volga, fixes his spaceship enough to get it moving, and sets about destroying his enemies.
This is the start of a personal journey for him and he grows and develops into a more cultured and educated man. He is still a raging nutter though.

The Stars my Destination is essentially The Count of Monte Cristo in space. Gully Foyle has to be one of the most single minded anti-heroes of all time.

The joys of the book are in its inventiveness, ideas, and ultimately a sense of wonder. Some of the characters, scenes and events are a joy to read. While Gully Foyle isn’t particularly likeable, you can’t help admiring his sense of purpose – his willingness to utterly screw someone over if they stand between him and his goal.

My only criticism would be that the story feels a bit disjointed. It feels a bit episodic, which is understandable as this was how the book was originally released.

The Stars my Destination is a classic of the genre. Chock full of cool ideas from the start, it just gets better and better as the book continues and the ideas flow. If you are a fan of Science Fiction you have probably already read it. If not, you damn well should. Volga!
For the UK: The Stars My Destination (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
To buy in the US: The Stars My Destination