May 13th, 2013
Coming soon: The Congress, a film inspired by Stanislaw Lem's The Futurological Congress. The trailer looks intriguing:
Judging by comments I've read the trailer doesn't give the impression that it's a particularly faithful adaptation, which may or may not be a problem. If we're really lucky it'll turn out like when Ridley Scott adapted Philip K. Dick. If we're unlucky, it'll end up more like Lee Tamahori or Christian Duguay.
May 8th, 2013
I know that this is just a bit of slick corporate marketing; carefully designed link bait for geeks of a certain age. I do. But how can anyone expect me not to link to Spock vs Spock?
[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]
May 3rd, 2013
I never had much time for the TRON universe: to my mind the original was an impressive technical feat but the story didn't grab me, and I wasn't even slightly tempted by the sequel from a couple of years ago. The animated spin-off from TRON: Legacy was barely on my radar, but I have to admit that this compilation of visually impressive moments from the show, compiled by art director Alberto Mielgo, makes me think that the visual style of the show was a bit special.
I have no idea whether the plot and performances were as strikingly good as the show's look – and judging by some of the comments I see it looks as if the show might not get past a first season so soon it could be a moot question – but it surely was pretty.
April 29th, 2013
The Official Wondercon Trailer for Pacific Rim looks sensational:
It's going to be quite a summer for big, brash science fiction action movies. Oblivion looked good and worked hard but fell short in the originality department, and After Earth really doesn't look promising, but there's still much to look forward to. Elysium will have no shortage of social commentary amidst the gunfire. Star Trek Into Darkness will give us another romp with the modern incarnations of Kirk, Spock and Bones and the crew, with the bonus feature of weeks of fun arguments about how Benedict Cumberbatch's character fits into/breaks Trek continuity. The Wolverine will have ninjas galore lining up to take on a mutant who's the best there is at what he does. With a less than completely happy ending for Logan. Man of Steel will have us kneeling before Zod before Superman punches him all the way back into the Phantom Zone.
However nothing – nothing! – promises more pure, goofy fun that Guillermo del Toro spending a couple of hours having giant human-piloted robots engage in punch-ups with giant alien monsters from the deep.
April 26th, 2013
Is there any science fictional vessel on TV that can possibly match the TARDIS?
[Via The Great Escapism]
April 17th, 2013
Mr. Dalliard: Time travel in movies. Nice work.
I can't help but notice that the chart's title says "… in movies" but a couple of TV series are included. And yet no Doctor Who. Odd, that.
[Via The Great Escapism]
April 10th, 2013
Following on from this comment, finally we have a trailer for Neill Blomkamp's Elysium.
Looks reasonably promising: you don't sign up Matt Damon and Jodie Foster if you're just looking to do a mildly futuristic shoot-em-up.
I'm not sure whether Elysium is going to end up being the best science fiction action film of the year, but given the talent involved it's got to be in with a shot.
April 8th, 2013
Doctor Puppet promises to be one of the very best fannish celebrations of the Doctor's 50th anniversary year.
I do hope the BBC's lawyers don't squash it like a bug.
February 20th, 2013
January 18th, 2013
Three science fiction-related items for the price of one:
I saw Safety Not Guaranteed on Tuesday. I'd seen the trailer months ago and forgotten all about it, but when I noticed it was showing at my local arthouse cinema the intriguing plot hook – a journalist investigates a somewhat eccentric man who placed a small ad in a newspaper advertising for someone to accompany him on a trip back in time – had stuck in my mind so I gave it a look.
As we get to know our would-be time traveller the story goes off on all sorts of interesting tangents, balancing the journalist's quest to find out what he's up to and why he's doing it with reflections on how the various characters' pasts have shaped where they are now and where they're going. The whole thing could have collapsed into silliness at several points, but the performances of the cast – especially Mark Duplass as the man who wants a partner to travel back in time, Aubrey Plaza as the journalist who gets drawn into his scheme, and Jake Johnson as her boss who has his own reasons for making the trip to the small town where all this takes place – give real, sympathetic performances that draw you in and make you care about how this strange story is going to end.
(And no, I'm not going to say anything about whether there's a time machine and whether anyone travels back in time. Go and see the film if you want to find out.)
Word has it that the Syfy channel have cancelled Alphas after just two seasons, having left the story on one hell of a cliffhanger. For my money, Alphas is the show that Heroes should have been. Alphas may have had fewer splashy special effects sequences than the earlier show, but it had vastly superior characterisation and plotting and the potential to build on a pretty stellar first couple of seasons.
As a viewer in the UK I'm aware that science fiction fans in the States keep slagging off Syfy for not being interested in sustaining science fiction shows and filling their schedules with wrestling, cheap monster movies and reality TV but obviously from over here I have no first hand experience of the quality of their network and no detailed knowledge of how they do ratings-wise. I'll just note that a network that has cancelled shows of the quality of Farscape, Stargate Universe and Alphas must have either a hell of a strong lineup or a death wish.
I posted about H+ The Digital Series back when it was a quarter of the way through the first, 48 episode season. Now that we've reached the end of the first season, I'd say that it turned out to be a stronger show than I'd expected. I'm still not wild about getting the story doled out in 3 to 4 minute chunks, but over time the plot did settle down into a number of complementary strands that depicted an interesting world and left me wanting more.
If you couldn't take the prospect of jumping from story to story in 3 minute chunks at weekly intervals, the series web site does have an interactive timeline that lets you follow the different plots in order so you might find that view of the storyline more palatable. Upon reflection, my main problem was more with the length of the individual episodes rather than the fact that there were several plots taking place at different times and places over the course of the first season. Three minutes or so per chunk of story felt stingy: I'd have sooner had 24 episodes of 6 to 7 minutes each, so that the story had room to breathe. Still, there was lots to admire about the showL the ambition, the production values, the cast.
The question is whether we'll see any more of the story. There's been no announcement yet, but when you look at the way the number of viewers watching each episode has fallen away since the start (even making allowance for the fact that more recent episodes have been up for much less time) I have to wonder if Warners and the producers have made enough money to make it worthwhile to come back for another 48 episodes. I'm pessimistic on that score, which is a real shame given that the show ended up being better than I'd thought early on when they were still laying the foundations for what was to follow. A quarter of the way in, I rated it a C+: I'd say what we got was a solid B with clear signs that it would be a B+ show in season 2.
[Alphas cancellation story via The Medium is Not Enough TV blog]
December 22nd, 2012
Javier Grillo-Marxuach brings us The Middleman and Wendy in …THE PARADOXICALLY FESTIVE MORTALITY:
HIGBEE'S CHRISTMAS PARADE – DOWNTOWN
10:00 AM IN A CANONICAL, CREATOR-OWNED REALITY
Wendy disliked it when the people targeted by the many villains she and The Middleman were tasked with neutralizing blew their Huggies in the face of danger, but even she had to cut this kid some slack: not only had he been put in the crosshairs by a time-traveling superbeing from three hundred years in an alternate future, he had also seen his first day volunteering at the Higbee's Department Store Christmas Parade turn into a Grand Guignol of mayhem at the hands of a hundred foot long inflatable ferret. Also, he'd grown up with the incredibly misguided name "Tiberius Davis." Poor kid, his parents really should have shown him mercy. [...]
The only fault I can find with this epic crossover is that our heroes don't get to interact with the direct descendant of Tiberius Davis whose 5 Year Mission inadvertently caused such mayhem.
By contrast, last year's instalment – THE WIBBLY-WOBBLY, TIMEY-WIMEY JIGGERY-POKERY – spent quite a bit of time showing us how Wendy reacted to Eleven and letting us know which regenerations The Middleman and Ida had already worked with.
December 19th, 2012
Fun as it is to play spot-the-film, I can't help but notice that over the last decade or so the standard of SFX work has become so routinely high that it's almost boring to see yet another beautifully rendered spaceship or futuristic city or giant robot.
Even last week's first trailer for Pacific Rim didn't wow me: my main thought wasn't about the quality of the special effects work, but rather that "This is how the Transformers franchise would look if someone had taught Michael Bay that it's no crime to hold a shot for more than three seconds, to give the audience time to grasp the relative sizes and positions of the two robots punching one another out so that the fights are actually exciting rather than just dazzling and confusing."
Obviously the trailer isn't the film, and I have faith in Guillermo del Toro's ability to wow me with a good story and some fantastic monsters, but I miss the days when it seemed as if every SF blockbuster was putting things on screen that I hadn't seen before, things I had imagined as I worked my way through the written works that made up the Golden Age of SF.
[Via Extenuating Circumstances]
November 28th, 2012
It's possible I should have already known about this: BBC Radio 4 are adapting Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Not a bad cast:
||Earl of Earl's Court
It will be broadcast somewhere in the first 4 months of 2013. And you will be able to listen to it wherever you are in the world, using the BBC's iPlayer.
November 28th, 2012
Dynamo, Episode 1: BIT 313-A [Alternative YouTube link]:
In which the Amazingly Bearded Man (ABM) wards off the Flesh Bats, and Ava makes bad decisions.
An ambitious, distinctly offbeat web-based science fiction series. It looks amazingly polished for something produced on a budget that probably wouldn't pay for a single day's catering service on Michael Bay's next Transformers movie.
It feels a bit like a cross between Max Headroom, Terry Gilliam and Twin Peaks. All of which are good things, to my mind. Four episodes in and I'm hooked.
November 16th, 2012
Tonight's Children In Need show included the customary tidbits for Doctor Who fans.
The Minisode/Christmas Special Prequel:
And the trailer:
Scary snowmen. A Sontaran declaring war on the Moon. Madame Vastra and her beautiful assistant Jenny Flint. The Doctor, retired. A first (?) appearance for the new Companion. It all looks highly promising.
[Via feeling listless]
October 21st, 2012
I bookmarked H+ The Digital Series a few weeks ago, but only got round to watching it yesterday evening:
A groundbreaking new series by acclaimed producer Bryan Singer, H+: The Digital Series takes viewers on a journey into an apocalyptic future where technology has begun to spiral out of control… a future where the world's population has retired its cell phones and laptops in favor of a stunning new device by Hplus Nano Teoranta, an innovative technology company that has found a way to connect the Internet to the human mind 24 hours a day.
The production values are reasonably high and as the series has been running for three months now there are enough 5 minute episodes up that you can dive in and watch a run of them to get an idea of the scope and style of the story. Which brings me to the problems: one story-related, and one structural.
First the story: simply put, I've watched the first dozen episodes and the story they're telling us has the stink of FlashForward/The Event all over it. A big world-changing event arriving out of the blue, nobody letting us in on how it happened or why, but with hints being dropped that at least one recurring character knows more than they're letting on. Stories happening in different parts of the world, and involving (apparently) unrelated groups of characters. None of those things precludes this turning into an interesting story, but after so many shows tried and failed to replicate the Lost effect it's only natural to be a little gun-shy.
The structural issue is trickier. Strip out the title sequence and the credits and there's only some 3:30 of story per episode. Essentially, you find yourself getting a couple of scenes with a character/group and then there's an enforced switch to a different person, place and point in the timeline. Even if I disregard the fact that once I've caught up I'm going to have to wait a week between these tiny chunks of story, breaking your story up into such small chunks does the rhythm of the storytelling no favours. Little cryptic snippets of story are fine for seeding the initial mystery, but it doesn't leave characters much room to breathe as the situation gets more complicated.
I suppose that there's a bright side to this – if you find one particular story thread dull then you can rest assured another one will be along within 5 minutes but I do wonder how well they'll be able to tell their story as it gets more involved.
They've done enough in the first dozen episodes that I'm willing to stick around and find out, though, which is a start.
[Via fuck yeah, science fiction!]
October 13th, 2012
Doctor Who: P.S. is an unfilmed scene, depicted in storyboards with some voice work from Arthur Darvill, and written by Chris Chibnall, that acts as a neat coda to the story of the Ponds' departure from the show and their life in the 21st century. Filmed, it'd have made a lovely post-end title sequence for the latest episode. To my mind this latest mini-season was a bit lacklustre so they shouldn't have squandered the chance to give us this one.
[Via feeling listless]
October 10th, 2012
For thousands of years the Borg cubes tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across – which happened to be the Earth – where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire Borg battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog.
Misquoted from Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The real story is a tad less dramatic, and nobody needs to get assimilated. The cubes are actually amateur radio satellites deployed from the ISS:
NASA have released photographs of the amateur radio CubeSats TechEdSat, F-1 and FITSAT-1 taken by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station (ISS).
The small satellites were transported to the ISS in the HTV-3 (Kounotori 3) cargo vessel that blasted off on an H-IIB rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center on Saturday, July 21 at 0206 UT.
The cargo vessel arrived at the ISS on July 27 and the ISS Canadarm2 robotic arm was used to install the HTV-3 to its docking port on the Earth-facing side of the Harmony module at 1434 UT. The CubeSats were then unloaded by the Expedition 32 crew.
[Via Bad Astronomy]
September 2nd, 2012
One of Ken MacLeod's story stories is being adapted as a student graduation film, Scattered:
When there is no history, it's hard to face the truth about the past
Scattered is the graduation project of MetFilm School students Joshua Bregman (writer-director) and Victoria Naumova (producer). We are both big fans of science-fiction genre and it's been our on-going dream to shoot a sci-fi film.
After a 15 year wait, Conal is going to meet his father for the first time. His father Keith is the world's most notorious criminal, convicted of a crime which changed history itself. Convinced of his father's innocence, Conal needs Keith's help to set the record straight. But his quest for justice takes an unexpected turn and Conal soon finds himself confronted with the unimaginable.
This atmospheric ﬁlm is the first ever screen-adaptation of the work of award-winning sci-ﬁ author Ken MacLeod. Scattered examines society's relationship with its past through a son's relationship with his father, and challenges our established ideas of destruction and terrorism through a crime that is as surprising as it is all-consuming. As all great sci-ﬁ should, Scattered offers a vision of the future that illuminates the present. [...]
It's a crowdfunded project, so I've thrown a few quid their way. Who knows, a decade from now these folks might be gearing up to shoot the Fall Revolution series, and it all started here.
[Via The Early Days of a Better Nation]