Tag Archives: sci-fi

Guest Star of the Month?

Often, when we are watching the myriad shows we follow, you end up spotting the same faces over and over again.  Most of the time this goes in cycles and a few faces will crop up in everything for a time, then they’ll be replaced by a new crop of faces.  So it goes in the Hollywood system.

These people are the guest stars who have the goods.

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Who would make the best/worst Father Christmas (Santa for you Yanks)?

This dark and grimy cantina is getting into the festive spirit. There’s a (mostly dead) pine tree in the corner with some decorations hanging on it (though I daren’t look too closely at what those “decorations” are), there’s some tinsel above the bar, and some ambitious soul has even hung up some mistletoe. So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I do something a little festive (actually possibly several things, but this is the first). I started thinking about jolly ol’ St. Nick, and all his Christmas shenanigans. Then I started thinking about other characters who’d do a better – or funnier, or more lethal – job of bringing presents and cheer to the worlds children.

So here we go, the Cantina Crowd’s Alternative Santa’s! Continue reading


Book Review: All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

This book is a first for me; it’s a Japanese light fiction novel which is something that I’ve never read before, but having explored this hitherto unknown region of literature I can tell you I’ll definitely be reading more. To put it simply, I loved this book. You could probably stop reading right now, and go off and order your own copy on the strength of my opinion, but I know that at least some of you will want to know why I loved it.

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The Trilogy I really want to see…

Many books find their way into the cinemas, some more deserving than others, but there is one trilogy that I would love to see…

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Starting in 2026 with the launch of the mission to colonise Mars, the story moves between getting to,  initial terraforming of and the creation of water on Mars, told from the point of view of the colonists and their descendents.  It is not merely a soap opera though, as the books deal with a multitude of issues, including the political, environmental, religious, economic, and philosphical, while still rooting the whole piece in ‘solid’ science.

It is the solid science foundation that really lets the books develop realistically, in that even if there are vast aspects of the story that are beyond our current abilities, a plausible explanation or concept has been devised to enable that plot element to thrive; no fantastical flying cars here!  Having said that, this is also no dry scientific tome, as the human element is also considered throughout, including the emotional and spiritual ramifications of their journey, although the personal side of the characters isn’t always handled as well as I might like.

Even with the occasional misstep in the interpersonal elements of the characterisation, this is still an excellent work, which is no doubt why these books have won numerous Nebula, Locus, and Hugo awards.

Despite being published in 1992 (Red Mars), 1994 (Green Mars) and 1996 (Blue Mars), there has still not been a film version of any of the books.   At various stages it has been rumoured that James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, and Jonathan Hensleigh were going to do adaptations, but ultimately these didn’t happen.  What needs to happen is for someone with real vision to grab this project and make an epic trilogy.


Sci-fi and Fantasy TV update…

Fringe

After a few posts about the state of TV Sci-fi and Fantasy shows, I thought I’d do a brief update on where they’re currently at…

Alphas:
This has had a relatively good start, with the first season showing some likeable characters and the usual dose of conspiracy and subterfuge thrown in.  It has come across as an ‘A-Team’ with powers, which hasn’t always worked, but has shown enough promise in these episodes to give it a chance. A grittier angle, if chosen could definitely help proceedings.

Once Upon a Time:
The first of the ‘fairy tale’ shows, this has proven to be solid in the ratings and will definitely see out a full season; this may be due to the overriding ‘frothiness’ of the show, which plays on charm and lightness, lacking any real menace or darkness in its scenarios. Robert Carlyle and Jennifer Morrison are as watchable as ever, but you do get the feeling that the actors are not being stretched, or allowed to express themselves as much as you’d like; Lana Parrilla, for instance,  is clearly better than currently represented.

Grimm:
Much darker than Once Upon a Time, Grimm is angled much more towards the bloody nature of fairy tales and throws in some conspiracy/politics for good measure. This will no doubt have more depth that OUaT in the long run, but needs to find its feet. The main characters have still to gel properly and how each character interacts with David Giuntoli’s main character Nick, has yet to be settled. In some cases it really doesn’t seem to be working, but in others, such as when paired with Silas Weir Mitchell (Eddy) it really does work well. More time is needed, but should come good.

Warehouse 13:
Still strong, this has retained its playful feel, but added in some more depth; unfortunately this comes in the form of the usual conspiracy angle, but it has been handled quite well. The charm of the main cast and ‘steampunk’ technology continues to be exploited well and so far they have avoided all the main hokum pitfalls that could have arisen. The traditional Syfy channel Christmas special was quite successful and had a good balance between fan ‘nods’ and story.

Eureka:
A very good season with Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton guest starring for a large portion, this has been a bittersweet period, with the news that the next season will be the last. Still quite goofy in tone, but the almost Acme  style science still has its charm. The Christmas special was very hit and miss however, with much of it being animated, but the script and story was poor. While the animation worked well and allowed for various jokes, the underlying story was poorly constructed and had far too many ‘life lessons’ for key characters, which came over as saccharine,  preachy and forced.

Haven:
They’ve managed to move this along quite well, while retaining the central core of the idea, and not forcibly maintaining a status quo; this has allowed the depth to come into the characters and it seems they are allowing it to naturally develop. Some slight hiccups in the season arc, with certain characters and plotlines not working 100%, with the writers putting themselves in a awkward place, which they then failed to get out of satisfactorily.

Fringe:
Well, another JJ Abrams related show has changed it all up again, as he tends to do after every couple of seasons. (e.g. Alias etc..) this time however, it has worked quite well and Fringe continues to be one of the best shows on TV. Solid performances all round and an engaging storyline have kept this from going stale. The change this season has raised some new ideas and fresh perspective, so creatively much is possible. I’m eagerly awaiting the next episode after the Christmas hiatus!

Terra Nova:
Still far too much standard storytelling with this one and every episode I am reminded once more of Earth2. The setting is almost irrelevant and not enough is being made of either the sci-fi elements or the pre-historic landscape elements. So much more could be done with the resources of the show, let alone with the concept, that is disappointing that the scope has been so formulaic and standard fare. Must do better!

Supernatural:
While this hasn’t been the strongest or most consistent season storywise so far, it has still been good quality and remains a good show. It has yet to be seen whether the introduction of the Leviathans will be seen as weak or not, but so far their overall arc seems to be too far in the background compared to the brother soap opera. The lack of Castiel has been a loss to this half of the season, so hopefully this will change in the second half. Potential for Sheriff Mills to be a bigger part is quite encouraging if they take that route.

Other stuff I couldn’t give a monkeys about:
Vampire Diaries (whatever…)
The Secret Circle (90210 with Witches)


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