Showing all posts tagged: science fiction

A trailer for the third and final series of Star Trek Picard

15 October 2022

The third series of Picard, another of the Star Trek franchise stories, goes to air in February 2023.

It seems to me the Star Trek stories get better as they go, if the trailer is an accurate indication of what to expect. Most of the original Next Generation cast are also set to appear alongside Patrick Stewart, who now portrays Admiral Picard, as they confront a mysterious enemy intent on destroying them, and the United Federation of Planets.

Stewart officially announced the season soon after, with filming ending in March 2022. The return of other Next Generation cast members was confirmed a month later, and [series showrunner Terry] Matalas hoped to make the season a satisfying ending for Picard’s story and the whole Next Generation cast.

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Andor will take you back to the Star Wars you grew up with

24 September 2022

The trailer makes Andor, the latest Star Wars streaming series by Disney, look fascinating, but as we all know, trailers sometimes over-sell the story they’re promoting.

Set in the five year period prior to Rouge One, Andor however promises to take us back to the Star Wars we grew up with, says Michael Idato, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald.

At the centre of the series is Cassian Andor, and his involvement with the then fledgling rebellion against the Galactic Empire:

The “Andor” series will explore a new perspective from the Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make. The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.

Andor has been screening since Wednesday 21 September 2022. Jack Seale, writing for The Guardian, describes it as the best Star Wars show since The Mandalorianonce it gets going:

In its third instalment, Andor finally becomes the gritty, kinetic spy thriller it has been billed as, after a surfeit of thoughtful world-building. Thankfully, somebody at Disney+ has their head screwed on, because Andor has debuted with a triple bill. Make it through that opening marathon and you have what’s shaping up to be the best Star Wars show since The Mandalorian.

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Book plotlines tropes and clichés a publisher may reject

13 August 2022

The world is full of writers and the stories they’d like to write. American author Joseph Epstein, writing for the New York Times, quotes research suggesting eighty-one percent of Americans think they “have a book in them”. That’s a lot. Unfortunately, aspiring writers vastly outnumber book publishers, meaning many manuscripts stand to go unnoticed and unpublished.

It might not seem like much help, but Strange Horizons — a magazine publishing speculative fiction — once put together a list of the types of sci-fi stories that they’ve seen submitted too often, and subsequently did not feature. I suspect they’re not the only publishers seeing such ideas either. Knowing what might be rejected then, might help you write something that won’t be.

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Everything Feels Like the End of the World by Else Fitzgerald

8 August 2022
Everything Feels Like the End of the World, by Else Fitzgerald, book cover

Everything Feels Like the End of the World (published by Allen & Unwin, 2 August 2022), by Mornington Peninsula based Australian writer Else Fitzgerald, seems like a book title for the times some days.

Winner of the 2019 Richell Prize for emerging writers, Fitzgerald written a collection of short stories, exploring a number of chilling dystopian futures for Australia, set both in the near and distant future:

Each story is anchored, at its heart, in what it means to be human: grief, loss, pain and love. A young woman is faced with a difficult choice about her pregnancy in a community ravaged by doubt. An engineer working on a solar shield protecting the Earth shares memories of their lover with an AI companion. Two archivists must decide what is worth saving when the world is flooded by rising sea levels. In a heavily policed state that preferences the human and punishes the different, a mother gives herself up to save her transgenic child.

Nanci Nott, writing for Artshub, describes Everything Feels Like the End of the World as an engaging collection of speculative short fictions:

Each tale is intensely personal, vibrant with specificity, and written with precision. Characters don’t just exist within their settings; entire worlds inhabit these characters. A master of minutiae and memory, Fitzgerald creates an intricate universe of befores-and-afters, sacrifices and consequences, mundane joys and darkest days.

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Belated birthday greetings to George Jetson born 31 July 2022

1 August 2022

I’ve seen a few episodes of The Jetsons, a futuristic carton show that first aired in the 1960s, but had forgotten, or maybe not even known, the setting was 2062. The twenty-fifth century somehow felt more like it. After all, a flying car that compacts down to the size of a briefcase when not in use? Come on, we’ll need a few hundred years to make that a reality.

But according to intenet pundits, George Jetson, husband to Jane, and father of Judy and Elroy, was born in 2022. Some have suggested 31 July as his actual birthday, though series creators have yet to confirm or deny that is the case.

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Vale Nichelle Nichols AKA Lieutenant Uhura of Star Trek

1 August 2022

American actor Nichelle Nichols, perhaps best known for her role as Lieutenant Uhura, the communications office of the USS Enterprise, in the original Star Trek TV series and later movies, died aged 89 over the weekend.

Star Trek fans doubtless have many favourite Uhura moments and lines, but this isn’t reality, this is fantasy, from The Search for Spock, the third Star Trek film starring the original cast, has to be up there with the best of them. See also this IMDb photo gallery honouring Nichols’ life and work.

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A trailer for Nope, the 2022 film by Jordan Peele

22 July 2022

Nope, trailer, being released in many parts of the world today, is the third feature of American actor and filmmaker Jordan Peele, and is being billed as a sci-fi horror comedy:

After random objects falling from the sky result in the death of their father, ranch-owning siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood attempt to capture video evidence of an unidentified flying object with the help of tech salesman Angel Torres and documentarian Antlers Holst.

But what does the title Nope mean? That, nope, there are no aliens in the film, because they don’t really exist in the first place? Nope, I don’t think so.

Peele chose Nope as the title because he wanted to acknowledge movie audiences and their expected reactions to the film. He also said, however, that he had considered titling the film Little Green Men to reference a theme in the film about humanity’s “monetization of spectacle.”

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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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