Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome Episode 1

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

I apologize for not posting this earlier. I got very excited earlier this year by the possibility of more Battlestar Galactica when BSG: Blood and Chrome was announced and came with an amazing trailer. The trailer is here if you want to wet your appetite (opens in a new window so don’t worry, you won’t lose this more exciting page). I complained a bit about Blood and Chrome being a ‘webisode’. I work for the Syfy channel and quite frankly they pump out quite a lot of shite. There are some real gems in their programming too, don’t get me wrong, but I should not have seen ‘Gateroid versus Mega Python’ four times. No one should have.

So why the big hairy balls is Syfy making something awesome and releasing it on the web. Through Machinima no less – my “go to” guys for game trailers? Well, the plan is (so the rumour grapevine has it), that there will be 10 ‘webisodes’ which will then be cut into a movie and released on Bluray. Which is actually a quite cool and novel way of doing things. Futuristic even.

If you have a shitty PC or laptop and broadband that can’t stream 1080p easily, you are missing out with this. Fortunately I can stream this in full resolution to my hi-def 42 inch plasma and it is fracking great.

The story follows a young William Adama as he joins the war against the Cylons. He’s cocky and a little annoying but gets more likeable as things move on. I will post episode 1 here today and episode two tomorrow. Then I will post it weekly. Enjoy. I massively did.

World War Z

World War Z by Max Brooks

I feel like the zombie fad is coming to an end. Here is probably its last big budget Hollywood gasp. World War Z is based on a superb book by Max Brooks. The book is set years after a zombie apocalypse had wiped out most of the planet and follows a guy who travels all over the world trying to make a coherent history of what happened. It is essentially a series of interviews or short story snapshops of how things happened.

The book is great and I heartily recommend it. Now there is a film with Brad Pitt. (Probably some other people too but who cares about them?) It seems like they have adapted to the story to Brad actually travelling all over the world and witnessing the outbreak first hand. For some reason. There looks to be a bucket-load of CG and zombies in exotic places. Like 28 days later but global and with a cast of multiple millions. It looks pretty fun in a braindead kind of way. (Hah, see what I did?)

Anyway. After legendary delays and problems, they have finally released a trailer. Watch the trailer, then read the book, then post comments on youtube about how crap it will be. Enjoy.
http://youtu.be/HcwTxRuq-uk
 

 

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter


I am a huge fan of both Sir Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. So imagine my excitement when I first heard about this book. Here is the premise.

A mad scientist / quirky genius posts the blueprints for a really simple device on the internet. This device, powered by a potato, allows people to step into a parallel world. It turns out there are millions of parallel worlds – possibly even an infinite number. They are all slightly different. Some have other human or apelike lifeforms, some have dinosaurs, some don’t have a moon, and so on. You know the idea.

This immediately changes humanity. Suddenly we are a pioneering species again with unlimited land. There are no longer any worries about natural resources. Humans quickly spread across the parallel Earths. Or the Long Earths as they come to be known.

Into this setting we are introduced to two main characters. One is an Artificial Intelligence called Lobsang, who is the reincarnation of a Tibetan motorcycle repairman. The other is a slightly strange fellow called Joshua Valiente who doesn’t need a device to ‘step’ between the parallel worlds, he is a natural. They also have a cool robotic cat.  These three set off on an epic journey across the parallel worlds (or long Earths).

So it sounds pretty cool right? Like Sliders but written by Pratchett and Baxter!

I should stress that this is only part one of a trilogy. So don’t be too put off when I say that sadly, this didn’t fully do it for me. It is different from the stuff either author writes and in some ways that is good. This is a ‘bigger’ story than Pratchett usually writes – he tends to focus on characters and situations. Conversely the characters are a bit more memorable and likeable than Baxter normally goes for.

But it just didn’t quite work. Why? The characters were good but you never feel like you fully know them and they are consequently hard to relate to or care about. My favorite character was the robot cat (definitely a touch of Pratchett humour there).

I know this is part of a trilogy but about halfway through the book I was quite looking forward to something happening. There are too many Earths that are the same. Hundreds of thousands are just ‘forest-like’. I was not necessarily hoping for Sliders or Heinlein’s Job or similar, but a bit more variety would have been fun. There are some more interesting worlds, with dinosaurs or covered in water or whatever, but they are so far apart the rest is a bit slow. Then, when they are found, not much happens.

So, sorry to say, The Long Earth didn’t grip me the way I hoped given Pratchett and Baxter being the writers. There were some great moments and some funny scenes (thanks Mr Pratchett) and there is a superb science fiction premise whose ramifications are really well explored (thanks Mr Baxter), but the characters and action left me underwhelmed.

But still, give it a go. You might like it. I have sounded quite negative in this review but keep one thing in mind: I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. So it can’t be all bad. This is Pratchett and Baxter for Christ’s sake!

To buy in the US: The Long Earth Paperback

To buy in the UK: The Long Earth Paperback

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