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

 

 

Harry Harrison

Harry Harrison

It’s a sad day. Harry Harrison, a legend of Science Fiction, has passed away. R.I.P Mr H.

I’ve always been meaning to write about a couple of Science Fiction writers that I loved when growing up and who should be a million times more famous. The first was Edmund Cooper (about whom I will write one day) and the second was Harry Harrison. In respect I will write about some of his work that I loved and you might enjoy. Like I did with J.G. Ballard. Hopefully you will feel intrigued to read more.

Harrison is quite well known mostly due to The Stainless Steel Rat series and Make Room! Make Room! which eventually became the movie Soylent Green. And we all know what that is.

The Stainless Steel Rat series

The Stainless Steel Rat

 

The Stainless Steel Rat is an epic series that follows career criminal ‘Slippery’ Jim DiGriz. There aren’t many humorous Science Fiction authors for some reason but these books are great. In a future where criminal behaviour is usually detected at birth very few bad guys slip through the gaps. Jim DiGriz is one such guy and he is roguish and generally cool. He then starts to meet others of his ilk… Highly recommended space romp fun.
Click here to buy in US
Click here to buy in the UK

 

Bill the Galactic Hero

Bill the Galactic Hero

The first book is a classic and another example funny space adventure. Instead of a quick witted criminal the protagonist here is the slightly dim, but highly determined ex-farmhand Bill. He enlists in the space marines and has a ton of adventures. Usually funny ones that frequently end with him losing a limb which, due to army supply problems, means he often has  mismatched anatonomy – two right arms and an animal foot for example. Most of the follow ups (with other authors) weren’t too great, but the original is superb.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK
Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room!

As mentioned, this was became the classic Soylent Green. This is most definitely not a comedy but it is a classic dystopian tale of planetary overcrowding. The novel is great and the writing is superb. You should give it a go.
Click here to buy in US
UK – Make Room! Make Room! (Penguin Modern Classics)

 

 

The Deathworld series

Deathworld

I will stop saying “I loved this” but I really did. Maybe because I first read it when I was 12, the main character is called Jason, and everything is pretty cool. It was either this or Stainless Steel Rat that I read first and they both sealed my admiration for Harrison.

The story features a guy called Jason dinAlt who is a professional gambler. He is also psionic which means he can cheat at dice. Which is exactly the sort of life I should lead. When he gets hired by a guy to win a load of money he becomes intrigued by the guy’s home planet. Which is seriously deadly. There are earthquakes, volcanoes, huge tidal disruptions massive storms and so on. All life is predatory: huge animals can crush vehicles and eat you whole, smaller animals are vicious and/or poisonous, even the plants are carnivorous and deadly. dinAlt is intrigued and ends up there and has awesome adventures.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in UK

The Eden series

Here is the premise. The massive asteroid that killed the dinosaurs never hit. Dinosaurs continued to evolve until some became clever, developed speech, weapons, war, houses, mail order porn and so forth. (Maybe not the latter, it has been a while.) Unfortunately an ice age is coming which means there are increasing amounts of dinosaurs being pushed into colder areas. And there be humans… They don’t get on and it is all tremendously exciting.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK

Captive Universe

A standalone novel that is just awesome. If you like some of Brian Aldiss’ work, you will love this. Two Aztec-like tribes live on either side of a river. No one, as far as they know, can ever cross as there is a monster in the river. I can’t reveal more as it will give things away but things aren’t what they seem. A great read.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in the UK

The Hammer and the Cross series

Historical fiction as violent vikings cross the north sea and have massive bloody battles with the Brits. Tremendously exciting and awesomely violent fun.
Click here to buy in US
Click here to buy in the UK

Homeworld trilogy

It is the future and it is paradise. Except it isn’t really, it is pretty dystopian.
Click here to buy in the US
Click here to buy in UK

Harry Harrison wrote over 80 books. They range from comic, dystopian, historical, alternate history, to space adventure and more. Some are just light fun, some have a bit more bite. There is something for everyone. I read nearly all his stuff when I was in my teens and am now going to read lots of them again. If you haven’t read his stuff, I recommend you try.

 

Cloud Atlas trailer

I’m pretty emotionally repressed but I just wiped away a tear at how incredible this trailer is. It has actually been on the internet for a couple of weeks now but I was hoping a version with less pop-ups would come out and it has. Plus I have been busy. The Cloud Atlas trailer is 5 minutes of awesome that just gets better the longer you watch. The only way the film can do this trailer justice is if it is about 5 hours long, so we shall have to wait and see how it pans out.

From the Wachowski siblings, the director of the superb Run, Lola, Run, and author David Mitchell, it should be good. Old school adventure, futuristic Asian chicks, and post Apocalyptic settings. It’s a bit like my life but with a less attractive cast. Enjoy.
http://youtu.be/KgI6EeYbV84

Prepare for Dystopia!

I think I’m ill. Possibly it is brain related. That is why I haven’t had a chance to write much recently. I’ve also been doing 84+ hour work weeks and am at a mental stage of my degree, but that doesn’t normally stop me writing. This is something much more sinister.

It all happened last week when I was idly browsing the interweb and looking at trailers. After watching Dredd and Total Recall again, I thought I would check outsomething different. I came across the trailer for Rec 3 and clicked play.

Then it happened.

My brain said, ‘Oh not another zombie film.’ I know, right? Scary thoughts. Since then I have been in shock. That part of my brain has since been shunned by the other parts. To be fair to my usually awesome brain, there have been a lot of zombies on our screens recently and there are more to come. Hollywood and the TV industry loves to find something popular with the public and then bombard us with it until we are bored. Or in this case, shoot it in the head repeatedly until we are bored. At present the zeitgeist is for zombies. This overlapped and largely replaced the vampire fad, which was a good thing as vampires are shit. For people without mirrors, they are way too vain. In 6 months everyone will be a bit bored of the undead in general and ready for something new. What will that be?

I think it will be dystopia and thanks to the ability to edit these entries, I have never been wrong. Dystopian themes have never really been satisfactorily played out and with today’s special effects and global concerns, it is overdue in my opinion. I love a good dystopian vision, it makes my current work situation seem ok. (Although I could just visit pretty much any factory in a third world country to get that perspective.) We recently had The Hunger Games. I have neither seen it nor read it, but it is on on my kindle in a queue. Soon we’ll have the aforementioned Total Recall and Dredd. Total Recall isn’t strictly dystopian but most people in it seem to be having a pretty shit time which makes it count. The mutants in particular have a bit of a downer (except the triple breasted whore who is always refreshingly feisty and upbeat). Dredd is classic dystopia. If this becomes a full fledged meme then we can probably look out for a whole slew of dystopian remake fun.

I know what you are thinking. Scifiward is never wrong and I want to get ahead and become an expert on dystopia to impress my nerdy friends. What should I read or see? Here we go…

Logan's Run

Logan’s Run has been rumoured already, which would be great as it will hopefully lead to the books being released again. The first two Logan’s Run books are superb and are impossible to find. Feel free to send me one to prove me wrong as I have misplaced my copies. The original film is well worth watching and even has a naked Jenny Agutter in it. It takes part in an enclosed world where everyone gets wasted and and takes drugs and shags each other until they are 30. When they are killed. (In the book it’s 21!) Some people decide they aren’t all that keen on dying so run for it. They are hunted down by people like the eponymous Logan.

I’d be surprised if 1984 isn’t redone at some point. It’s famous and has Big Brother in it, so most people have already kind of heard of it. The book is brilliant.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, apparently inspired 1984 (and lots of others). This is a society where all the buildings are made of glass and everyone has to wear the same thing. Most guys would probably be ok with this.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is another literary classic. In it, everyone is split into a caste system. Alphas are allowed to develop naturally but all the others are almost clonelike and stupid and do menial tasks and factory work – their intelligence purposefully reduced so they are happy. Everyone is taught to consume and dispose in order to keep full employment. Like Logan’s Run, getting off your tits and having meaningless sex is a pretty respected way to spend an afternoon.

Fahrenheit 451. This is my actual copy.

Fahrenheit 451 by the late and lamented Ray Bradbury. Here, books are banned. In the book we learn that this arose from people watching too much TV and media and the book started to die out. So they banned it and now everyone just watches TV and the state rules a docile population. Pretty accurate isn’t it? (Blogs are probably just a shallow media and won’t count.) Bradbury was exploring themes of censorship and the alienation caused by certain media. There is also a pretty good film made of Fahrenheit 451 with Julie Christie.

As a side note, Christian Bale was in a film called Equilibrium which not many people liked but I actually thought was ok. It is pretty much Fahrenheit 451 except emotion is banned and everyone is drugged up.

Children of Men

Another more recent dystopian vision is the awesome Children of Men. I haven’t read the book by P.D. James (which surprises myself) but I will soon. The film is excellent and is nowhere near as famous as it should be. The premise here is that all men are now infertile and no one is having babies any more. Society gets bummed out by this.

There are plenty of other books depending on your style which I can’t be bothered to explain. For example Margaret Atwood wrote the famous Handmaid’s Tale (which I hated) and Neal Stephenson wrote the fairly well known Snowcrash (which I loved).

Movie-wise here are some examples you may have already seen but which I really like:

Robocop, Wall-E, Soylent Green, THX 1138, Rollerball, Aeon Flux, V for Vendetta, 12 Monkeys, Battle Royale, Gattaca, Metropolis, Sleeper.

So there you go. Dystopia! You’ve got to love it. For some reason, it is a much more acceptable face of science fiction. Maybe because everyone sees the stories as allegories for modern politics and freedom and censorship. Maybe it’s because respected usually non-scifi writers have written some dystopian tales. Or maybe because people are just dumb and should be told what to do. Whatever, it is a great sub-genre.

Check back here in a year’s time and I will probably be gloating about how right I was. Either that or I will be ruling all you proles and you will have to praise me all the time anyway. Either is good.

Dredd takes out drug den (clip)

This will be the last Dredd clip I play until the film comes out, I promise. I wasn’t going to post any more but then I saw this clip after reading a review (sort of) on the superb website io9.com. It looked too awesome not to include here.

Have you ever seen those ultra slow-mo films of things like people sneezing or a fat man being slapped? Cool right? Well imagine that but with bullets or explosions hitting evil druggies. In 3D. That is what this clip is all about and it looks great. (By the way, here is the review of Dredd on io9: http://io9.com/5925364/dredd-is-a-brutal-action-flick-with-both-a-high-body-count-and-a-brain)

First things first though, ARE YOU 18? If not the video may not work. Also, you shouldn’t be on this site if you aren’t 18 as occasionally I will swear or say things that might sound like I’m glorifying violence. Which is wrong kids, and may warp your delicate little minds. Violence and swearing are not cool.

Now let’s watch Dredd shoot some fucker in the face! Woohoo!

 

Prometheus – Let’s Whine Pointlessly About It

Prometheus

I saw this a couple of weeks ago but never got round to reviewing it. As I’m probably the last blogger in the world who hasn’t reviewed this film, I thought I would just skip to discussion bit. I’m assuming you have already seen it.
IF NOT, GO NO FURTHER!!! SPOILERS! SERIOUSLY! STOP! I’M NOT SURE I WANT TO RECOMMEND THAT YOU GO AND SEE THIS SO IF YOU HAVEN’T JUST GO READ A BOOK. ‘THE UNEVEN PASSAGE OF TIME’ IS GREAT, JUST DOWNLOAD THAT.

Ok hopefully that did the trick. So. Prometheus. I was going to write a review that simply read: meh? But sadly I couldn’t be bothered.

I should point out that unlike most people I work with, I didn’t hate Prometheus. In fact, if the cinema had broken and I was forced to leave soon after they enter the mounds, I would have walked away thinking this is one of the best films I had seen in ages. There were lots of positives until this point. Sadly a lot of these then got ruined. Not all of them but most. Let’s look at the good bits first.

mmm spaceship...

It looks great.

It just looked so awesome. The spaceship, the kit, the rovers, the 3D. The scene where the ship is tiny and is seen alongside the ringed planet just looked spectacular in 3D. Probably 2D too but the third dimension tech works brilliantly. Just about everything in the movie looked great throughout and if you complain you are wrong. The blue alien guy could have done with a T-shirt though.

The characters

Up until the point they entered the domes, I was intrigued by the motley crew. They all seem to have quirks and secrets that I assumed would be resolved and expanded upon as the second half unraveled.

Fassbender’s robot was by far the best character. It starts with him watching Lawrence of Arabia and watching people’s dreams. Then, when he is mentioned by Guy Pierce’s hologram as being the son he never had he looked proud and smiled subtly. This then disappears when virtual Pierce says he has no soul. Interesting, I thought to myself, some kind of desire to be human seems to be apparent. Androids in the Alien franchise are always intriguing and morally questionable. Will he end up like a psychotic Data from Star Trek?

Charlize Theron. I could just leave it there. She’s gorgeous and any film should be happy to have her. In this film it was apparent there was something else going on with her. She didn’t seem to like old man Weyland (Pierce) and was generally just sexy and strong and dominant. Mmmmm. Clearly things are going on with her.

Guy Pierce playing the old fella. Why get a young actor to play an old man? Is he going to get younger at some point? Interesting…

The two main scientists – Shaw and Holloway. They seemed likeable enough. Keen, dedicated scientists intent on discovery. What will happen to them?

An angry geologist – why is he so inexplicably annoyed? He’ll probably develop in some way I wrongly thought.

Others are there to fill roles and do so well. I like Idris Elba for example, and here he plays a believable captain. That’s about all really.

The Plot

Humans may come from space! Yikes! Take that all religions ever! Except not really, apparently. It’s all a bit Von Daniken but who cares? Our makers are on a planet somewhere and there will eventually be aliens involved. This is going to be cool.

Ah. Er. Oh...

OK. So up until this point, I liked it. A lot. And I don’t care if you disagree. Sadly it then went a bit, er, disappointing.

What I didn’t like about Prometheus

Let’s recap the characters.

David still remains intriguing but he is clearly badly programmed. His human desires or want of a soul seem to have just been imagined, by me at least. Maybe Lawrence of Arabia was the only film they had and that was why he had it on. David also does weird things like infect Holloway’s drink and then promptly forgets about it. On the planet he is constantly jamming his fingers into holes and pressing alien buttons at random. All very odd.

Charlize Theron reveals that Guy Pierce is her dad. There has been no real character development here, so it is hard to see why we should give a shit about this. She then gets crushed by a massive falling, rolling spaceship that could have been easily avoided by dodging a bit. Her character seems a waste time really. Frowny face.

Guy Pierce is alive! Again: so what? Why the hoax exactly? Who would have cared? The only astounding part is that they used a younger guy to play an older actor for no reason at all. I can only assume this is because he will appear in the sequels. Or the prequel’s prequel.

Holloway. What the balls happened here? He starts off massively excited about cave paintings but when faced by an actual alien body on another planet, he is so disappointed he immediately gets wasted. It doesn’t make any sense. He is clearly a shit scientist as he hurries into the mound and removes his helmet within the first few minutes after landing, like an eager child on a dare. THEN, when he’s drunk and is all ‘Boohoo cave paintings were mind boggling but this trillion dollar interstellar trip with its alien craft, technology and actual dead aliens just sucks’, he ingests some alien liquid. He soon sees some weird shit in his eye. This isn’t a herpes sore he is trying to hide from a new girlfriend, it is a moving alien growth in his eye. When asked if he’s ok, he just replies, ‘Yeah nothing, let’s have sex.’ Logical scientist.

Shaw. She’s pretty cool actually. The scene where she gives herself an abortion was pretty tense and well done. Lots of internet types have griped that she shouldn’t have been running around so soon after but they are presuming a knowledge of future medicine they don’t have. It seems possible that skin generation might be more advanced for example. Plus Panadol ++++++ mega ultra might be more effective by then.

Angry geologist and all other characters: never develop at all. They just die. Normally for utterly stupid or pointless reasons.

General annoying plot holes and stupid themes

Why this planet/moon? The captain explains that the planet/moon is actually an outpost where they were conducting biological experiments. This explanation seems based on nothing much at all but everyone henceforth treats it as solid fact. So when the aliens visited earth lots of times and in lots of different places, they were told: ‘paint maps on their walls please, but just direct them to an outpost’. It must have been an old outpost as some of the cave paintings were tens of thousands of years old.

How did they find the mounds? When they arrive the planet seems dead. They fly through the clouds and spot the mounds straight away. How lucky was that? It’s like flying to Earth at random and finding the exact town you were looking for straight away.

I know where I'm going. It's definitely this way. Don't ask for help.

Why were the geologist and biologist such useless twats? The angry geologist is the guy who maps the place, which is then uploaded to a live map in the ship. How do they get lost? Also, if they are such chickenshits that they flee after seeing the alien bodies, why hide out in a room with a giant spooky head, lots of mysterious vases and then, when they see a live alien, go and pat it? ‘Phew, we escaped. Something weird killed all those aliens thousands of years ago and it might still be here. Sadly we are lost and I’m too embarrassed to ask for help as that is my specialist skill but at least we escaped the dead bodies and whatever killed them. Let’s hide in this huge room with all the stuff in it. Awww look at cute snake-like creature rearing up at me on this supposedly dead planet. Hello snakey…’

Why ignore gravity and inertia? Here is a tip. If a massive ship is moving up and away from you and it is destroyed in mid flight by a ship moving in the same direction don’t worry. It will continue in the same direction and crash even further away from you. Apart from here. Tip two. If the ship is round and rolls down a hill toward you, dodge to the side. To the side. Or you could hide under a rock apparently.

The Captain apparently has to die but the other two? Really? By this point my pedantic mind had almost stopped working but it twitched briefly to life when this happened. ‘I have to die by flying this ship at the alien one.’ Other two: ‘Yeah fuck it, we might as well die too. As characters we are too minor to survive anyway.’

Final point – themes in general.

There are parts of Prometheus that feel like they are just poorly edited. The whole Christmas/Christ’s birth and death/Christianity thing going on didn’t feel like it went where even the makers of the movie wanted. First off, it’s Christmas. There’s even a Christmas tree to establish this theme. Shaw is a Christian and is infertile and then has a miracle birth. It was revealed at some point that the aliens hate humanity because of a disaster or something on Earth 2000 years ago. According to an interview I read, this was Christ’s death and there was going to be more about it but in the end, they couldn’t be arsed.

Kings/creators are inevitably killed by their creations. Theron points out that all kings die to her ancient dad. Well spotted. This theme is further developed by Old Man Weyland being beaten to death by David’s head. The Engineer alien is killed by the Xenomorph alien. If we continue this theme then Shaw will somehow kill all the Engineers in the following films. Maybe with help from the Xenomorphs. The Xenomorphs and androids will then kill all the humans. The third film will then inevitably be war between aliens and robots. I’ll admit this is unlikely, but it would be cool.

If we have the exact same DNA as the Engineers why don’t apes? Or all other life. Was that bit at the beginning just the creation of mammals or all life? Just humans? Did we not evolve from apes and jellyfish? What? How? Er?

I’m done now. Sorry.

I feel I may have gone on about this a bit too much. I apologize. I meant to write a brief piece then seemed to rant a bit. As I stated what feels like hours ago, I didn’t hate Prometheus. I loved the first half. Some of the above plots may even be clarified in the following films. I hope so. My advice would now be to call in the Space Marines.