Showing all posts tagged: science fiction

Star Wars Fan Film: A Blaster in the Right Hands

20 June 2022
A Blaster in the Right Hands, a Star Wars Fan Film, poster

Made in 2021, A Blaster in the Right Hands, a fan made Star Wars film, is a treat for admirers of bounty hunters in the long running film series. A Blaster in the Right Hands is the work of Australian filmmakers Lunacraft Productions, and was filmed, I believe, near the NSW town of Picton.

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What If the Future Never Happened? The Daniel Johns story

1 June 2022

To accompany his latest album, Never Future, Australian musician Daniel Johns, formerly of Silverchair, will be releasing a short film (trailer), set in 1994, based on his experiences as a fifteen year old fronting Silverchair, which will feature orchestral reinterpretations of the band’s hits.

In a press release, Johns described What If The Future Never Happened? as “a grunge, sci-fi short adventure inspired by the pop culture I was immersed in before a curious case of child stardom”. It follows a hypothetical timeline wherein Johns’ trajectory was interrupted by “a mysterious figure from the future”, presumably stopping him from making the leap to stardom.

Johns, who will be portrayed by Australian actor Rasmus King, in addition to making a cameo appearance himself, describes the film as “at once the most honest and most fantastical thing I’ve ever done”.

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Star Trek’s Wil Wheaton did not want to be a child actor

1 June 2022

American actor and later blogger Wil Wheaton, whom I came to know through his roles as Gordie Lachance in Rob Reiner’s film Stand by Me, and later Wesley Crusher in the Star Trek: The Next Generation television series, says he did not want to be an actor as a child, and writes that it was a choice his mother made for him.

I can’t remember specifically when I first said “I just want to be a kid,” but I can still see the late 70s smog, and smell the exhaust all around us as I begged her for what feels like years to stop making me do this, while we sat in traffic on the freeway after school, going to and from auditions, day after day after day.

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Kathryn Barker’s Waking Romeo wins Aurealis best sci-fi novel

28 May 2022
Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker, bookcover

Waking Romeo (published by Allen & Unwin, March 2021), by Sydney based Australian author Kathryn Barker, has been named winner of the Best Science Fiction Novel, in the 2021 Aurealis Awards.

It’s the end of the world. Literally. Time travel is possible, but only forwards. And only a handful of families choose to remain in the ‘now’, living off the scraps that were left behind. Among these are eighteen-year-old Juliet and the love of her life, Romeo. But things are far from rosy for Jules. Romeo is in a coma and she’s estranged from her friends and family, dealing with the very real fallout of their wild romance. Then a handsome time traveller, Ellis, arrives with an important mission that makes Jules question everything she knows about life and love. Can Jules wake Romeo and rewrite her future?

The Aurealis Awards have been honouring Australian science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers since 1995. The full list of winners in the 2021 awards can be seen here.

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Vale Colin Cantwell science fiction concept artist

27 May 2022

The late American concept artist, who died last week at the age of 90, was behind the concept and design of many of the vessels seen in the early Star Wars films.

His staggering number of designs and prototype models essentially formed the visual Star Wars starship lexicon, and include the X-wing, Y-wing (the first approved design, according to The Making of Star Wars), TIE fighter, Star Destroyer, Death Star, landspeeder, sandcrawler, and blockade runner (a design originally intended for the Millennium Falcon).

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No aliens: Carl Sagan’s big 2001: A Space Odyssey contribution

16 May 2022

Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, who co-wrote the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey were at loggerheads for years as to how to portray the highly advanced aliens who created the mysterious black monolith seen throughout the film.

Kubrick had been considering depicting the extra-terrestrials as human-like, until American cosmologist and author Carl Sagan suggested not showing them at all. Best idea ever. The approach created so much more intrigue.

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The 2022 Hugo Awards shortlist

12 April 2022

It doesn’t seem so long ago that the winners of the 2021 Hugo Awards were announced, but the shortlist for the 2022 awards, which recognise the work of science-fiction and fantasy writers, has been unveiled. This year works spanning nineteen award categories have made the cut, with winners being named on Sunday 4 September 2022, at Chicon 8, in the American city of Chicago.

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The 2021 Aurealis Awards shortlist

9 April 2022

The Aurealis Awards have been celebrating the work of Australian science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers since 1995, and the shortlist for the 2021 awards was announced last week.

Titles have been nominated in fifteen categories: Best Graphic Novel / Illustrated Work, Best Young Adult Short Story, Best Horror Short Story, Best Horror Novella, Best Fantasy Short Story, Best Fantasy Novella, Best Science Fiction Short Story, Best Science Fiction Novella, Best Collection, Best Anthology, Best Young Adult Novel, Best Fantasy Novel, Best Horror Novel, Best Science Fiction Novel, Best Children’s Fiction, plus the Sara Douglass Book Series Award.

The winners will be named on Saturday evening, 28 May 2022, at the The Hellenic Club in Canberra.

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A trailer for the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV mini-series

12 March 2022

A teaser/trailer for the upcoming Disney+ Obi-Wan Kenobi six-part TV mini-series, that delves further into the Star Wars saga. Both Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen reprise their roles as Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, respectively.

The story begins 10 years after the dramatic events of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” where Obi-Wan Kenobi faced his greatest defeat — the downfall and corruption of his best friend and Jedi apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned to the dark side as evil Sith Lord Darth Vader.

From this snippet, Obi-Wan Kenobi looks promising. Though some have been better than others, I’m wary of some efforts to “fill in” gaps in the original Star Wars saga, or more the point, the first six films, as, to me, episodes seven through nine didn’t feel the least bit like Star Wars.

While I thought Rogue One, depicting events immediately prior to A New Hope, wasn’t too bad — terrible CGI representation of some characters aside — Solo, the Han Solo “origin story”, was unnecessary to say the least.

Given almost twenty-years separate events of Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope, there’s probably enough room to insert a story half-way between episodes three and four, without compromising the integrity of the saga. Time will tell. Obi-Wan Kenobi debuts on Wednesday 25 May 2022.

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2001: A Space Odyssey, a 2022 remake

14 February 2022

Related to my earlier post, can it be? George Lucas and Steven Spielberg collaborated on a remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey? How did I miss this? And even though the remake has a release date of 3 December 2022, it has already been appraised by the critics:

The film got mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 89%, which is very close to the original films rating. People thought that it had good music (while the original barely had any music) since it was performed by John Williams, who makes great music, and they loved HAL 9000’s theme “Bad Programming Day”. Also, a lot of people thought that it was similar to the original film. Harrison Ford even got a reward for his excellent acting in this film, people even say that it was better than his performance as Han Solo.

In this… “remake” Harrison Ford voices HAL, Chris Pratt is David Bowman, Jason Bateman is Frank Poole, and Mark Hamill portrays Heywood Floyd, so it looks like the reboot fails the Bechdel Test. John Williams composed the soundtrack, which is awesome even it means no Blue Danube this time around.

Can’t wait to see it though…

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Vale Douglas Trumbull, film visual effects artist

14 February 2022

Douglas Trumbull, a visual effects artist whose film credits include Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek: the Motion Picture, The Tree of Life, and the mind-boggling “star-gate” sequence in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, died last week at the age of 79.

By the way, the above trailer was made in 2018 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Expounding the reality of climate change through science fiction

31 January 2022

American science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2020 novel The Ministry for the Future is set in a world once ravaged by climate change, but slowly on the mend. Yet the inhabitants of this world have not had to merely tolerate weather extremes, but also numerous other significant problems.

His most recent novel, “The Ministry for the Future,” published in October, 2020, during the second wave of the pandemic, centers on the work of a fictional U.N. agency charged with solving climate change. The book combines science, politics, and economics to present a credible best-case scenario for the next few decades. It’s simultaneously heartening and harrowing. By the end of the story, it’s 2053, and carbon levels in the atmosphere have begun to decline. Yet hundreds of millions of people have died or been displaced. Coastlines have been drowned and landscapes have burned. Economies have been disrupted, refugees have flooded the temperate latitudes, and ecoterrorists from stricken countries have launched campaigns of climate revenge.

Perhaps more stories like this — that are both gloomy yet hopeful — might prompt more people to take climate change more seriously?

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Martha Wells wins best novel prize in 2021 Hugo Awards

22 December 2021

Network Effect, by American speculative fiction author Martha Wells, won the best novel in the Hugo Awards for 2021. Established in 1953, the Hugos celebrate the best science fiction and fantasy written works – across a number of categories – of the past twelve months.

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Can turning to the light side of the force change the world?

13 November 2021

Can the light side of the force (à la the Star Wars universe) change the world? Washington D.C. based American author Stephen Kent, writer of How the Force Can Fix the World, believes some of the core principles of the Star Wars stories – hope, humility, and balance among them – can be of help to humanity in times of uncertainty.

We’re living in a time of unprecedented and rapid change. An age of chaos. Democracies are in decline worldwide. Dictators are ascendant. Civic organizations are crumbling. People feel lonelier and more rudderless than in any other time in recent history. We’ve tried to slow down, and in some cases we, like Anakin, have tried stop the change, but failed at every turn. The fears that come with living in an age of disruption have produced public anger, and that anger has swelled movements of hate.

And for those who are strong with the force, American journalist and editor Meg Dowell recently interviewed Kent about the book and its concepts, on the Followers of the Force Podcast.

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Laura Jean McKay wins the 2021 Arthur C Clarke award

1 October 2021

New Zealand based Australian author Laura Jean McKay has been named the winner of the 2021 Arthur C Clarke award for science fiction writing, with her 2020 novel The Animals in That Country. Very much a novel for our times.

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Arthur C Clarke’s Newspad RSS news aggregator

30 May 2008

Author and futurist Arthur C Clarke is credited with predicting the emergence of a number of technologies, including a tablet-like device called a “Newspad”, which could serve the latest news stories from electronic versions of newspapers.

So far more has been said about comparing the Newspad to PDAs or Tablet PCs, but the Newpad also worked in a very similar way to today’s news aggregators, or RSS feed readers.

In the novelised version of 2001: A Space Odyssey, (chapter title “Moon Shuttle”, pg 66-67) Dr Heywood Floyd, chairman of the US National Council of Astronautics, spends time reading on his Newspad, while traveling to the Moon.

Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man’s quest for perfect communications. Here he was, far out in space, speeding away from Earth at thousands of miles an hour, yet in a few milliseconds he could see the headlines of any newspaper he pleased. (That very word “newspaper,” of course, was an anachronistic hangover into the age of electronics.) The text was updated automatically on every hour; even if one read only the English versions, one could spend an entire lifetime doing nothing but absorbing the ever-changing flow of information from the news satellites.

Not only did Arthur C. Clarke predict PDAs and Tablet PCs, he also foresaw the emergence of news aggregators, and RSS technology.

Originally published Friday 30 May 2008.

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