February 2009 Archives

February 27, 2009

Love & Hate

Things that Big Dumb Object has loved and hated this week:

Loved

Hated

  • Awards ceremonies. They're a bit dull aren't they?
  • Books coming out in the US months before the UK. I blame Pyr.

Being Human - Episode 5

Introductory episodes done, main arc nicely set up and BLAM!

Wow. What a great episode. The two big arc plots are reaching some kind of conclusion.

Firstly, Annie the Ghost confronted Owen, her old boyfriend, and murderer, and despite a moment of WTF?! he got over it pretty quickly and showed his true colours. What a nasty piece of work. I thought the scene where he was comforting his current girlfriend whilst attacking Annie was brilliant. And eventually she gathered enough strength to get back at him, sending him slightly mad by a secret whisper; presumably something about the afterlife?

Secondly, the Vampire plan. Mitchell returns to the vampires, feels good, realises they’re trying to take over the world and are farming people. Changes his mind. I like the fact that all of this decisions seemed real, nothing forced, he was driven back by the behaviour of humans, but ultimately he wants to live with humans, not overthrow the world. The vampire plan is nice and sleazy and underground,  a secret war.

Mixed in with the action and the emotional bits were some great laughs again, this episode got the balance just right. George is particularly funny when raiding the Vampire funeral home; “We're like the world's gayest ninjas.”

It ended with a cliff-hanger and I can’t wait to see the next episode. Very enjoyable, and for BBC3, impressive. They’ve even made a pretty good website with extra stuff.

And the extra good news, Being Human has been commissioned for another series. Not sure what that means to resolution of the plot this series.

February 26, 2009

Dollhouse S01E02

Hmmm. And Hmmm.

There are problems with Dollhouse. This episode had a pretty dull main plot and a slightly more interesting overall arc, which has got to be wrong, surely each individual episode has to be good? At one point I thought it was Star Trek and Echo was Kirk.

There are just too many things that nag at me:

  • How am I supposed to get to know a main character who is completely different every episode (or empty). How can we get to like Echo? I’d rather she was just a super ninja.
  • Dollhouse seems on one hand exceedingly ambitious for an “escort agency” and at the same time immensely un-ambitious for the technology. Surely there are better uses for the imprint technology? Like super-ninjas perhaps.
  • How come Dollhouse have the tech? (And not the army?)
  • How come they are a massive operation and have one geeky scientist to control the computers?
  • How come they are in a skyscraper in the middle of a downtown city?

Hopefully these episodes are slow setup, but overall it’s lacking anything to make me love it. Which is rather disappointing.

February 25, 2009

The Future Of Mobility

Honda have created an interesting video on the future of mobility. As you'd guess there is some talk of cars, but it's a bit more than just another advert due to the people they have talking, of note: SF authors Ben Bova and Orson Scott Card, Mitchell Joachim and Christopher Guest. However, the people I liked the best were the Honda engineers and designers, who were calm, quiet and thoughtful.

Personally I want Jetpacks and teleportation, not cars, unless they're on a Formula One circuit.

Genesis - Bernard Beckett

Genesis by Bernard Beckett has rather lovely and intriguing cover art and, despite it's extremely slim size by current day standards, the phrase "a novel" underneath the title. I would have guessed it was a novella at 150  pages with plenty of white space, not that the classification really matters, what matters is that you can read it quickly and there are not another two weighty tomes in the series to finish the story. All in all, a nice relief given current genre publishing trends.

The setting is a remote island state, isolated from a world wide apocalypse, and rebuilt as an independent republic. The story follows a student of history as she tries to pass her examination to enter the Academy, her specialist subject one of the key historical events of her society.

Initially a style/layout choice put me off, or rather hindered me getting into the story, that choice being that a large chunk of the book is presented in a screenplay fashion, with just dialogue. I found this a bit distracting. Also, the first portion of the book is quite infodump heavy, with a lot of explanation and scene setting. The descriptions at least do have a sensible reason for their existence, as the main character Anaximander is facing an examination, and has to explain her studies; but I found it a bit too heavy handed. There is a lurch from apocalyptic scene setting to the real meat of the book, but that's when the story picks up.

The story did, however, win me over, particularly when it left the screenplay style. It's still conversation heavy, not a book in which I re-read long passages of description, but consequently moves along at a high pace and dispenses with anything which could obscure the story's central purpose: the intellectual argument.

There have been many books which deal with Genesis's ideas, of post-apocalyptic society and AI, in a more subtle way. Genesis attacks the issue head on, which again, won me over despite initial reservations, and finishes in a very satisfying way; one aspect I could see coming, one I couldn't.

Enjoyable Science Fiction, which tackles its core issue in a succinct head on intellectual argument, and then wraps it up with a surprisingly emotional ending.

Genesis by Bernard Beckett is published in the US on 20th April 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and in the UK on 7th May 2009 by Quercus Publishing

February 24, 2009

Dollhouse - S01E01

Considering how brilliant Buffy, Firefly and Dr.Horrible are, was there any chance that Dollhouse could live up to the expectation? I hoped so. Well actually I consciously downgraded my expectation, which was a fortunate thing to do, because the first episode of Joss Whedon's new show was spectacularly unspectacular.

My issues with the episode are :

  1. The Science Fictional aspects were completely unnecessary for the story.
  2. The involvement of the Science Fictional aspects were not at all believable.

Which is a bit of a shame. As a police, crime, kidnap story I guess it was okay, although I don't watch those kinds of programmes and imagine that it can be done a lot better. But why was the Dollhouse involved at all? If you're a billionaire and your daughter gets kidnapped do you:

(a) Hire the best kidnap negotiator in the world

(b) Go to a top secret organisation that implants memories into people and ask for someone who has the memories of the best kidnap negotiator in the world.

I would have thought (a).

If the show turns out as an excuse to do a different genre story every week I'll be very disappointed. Joe 90 did that, and was more fun.

Also lacking, as many people have pointed out, was the trademark Whedon whit. The lines were dull and flat, as were the characters. Is this Joss trying to be serious? Not great, and not even on the same planet as Dr. Horrible. But I'm not going to do a TV Network and write it off just yet. I will give Dollhouse a chance.

PS. Fox, please let me hotlink to the nice photos you have of the episode rather than wrap them in a Flash security blanket.

February 23, 2009

Trailers Seen

Watching film trailers on YouTube never gets me excited. Seeing trailers on the big screen is a different matter. In an increasingly rare excursion to the cinema I managed to see some interesting trailers. Here's the YouTube versions so you can not get excited about them too.

Coraline. Looks lovely and scary and wonderful, but not one mention of Neil Gaiman. What?!

 

Up. Bizarre Pixar film in which an old man sets his house afloat with loads of balloons. Looks brilliant.

 

Monsters vs. Aliens. Might be funny, should be with that title, but will probably be mediocre.

Most Wanted

Things most wanted by Big Dumb Object this week:

  • Time. Time to watch SF programmes, to read SF books, to read SF stories, to watch SF films, to read SF blogs, to write SF stories.
No chance of a time slowing machine on the horizon so I guess I'll have to do it the old fashioned way and sleep less.

February 22, 2009

Lost S05E06

What I’m loving about this season of Lost is the relentless forward energy. There’s no talking down to the audience, no slow and heavy reminders of past plot points, just lots of stuff happening.

The Lamp Post is a cool idea, although how The Dharma Initiative knew that The Island existed in the first place is a mystery, but building an entire station just to find it is nice. The Island being constantly on the move sort of explains why it’s so hard to find, although wouldn’t everyone notice a moving island?!

I’m not entirely convinced about the need for everyone to get back to The Island, or the way they had to do it. I can’t help feeling that there is something else behind it all. After all, if it was so important for them not to leave, how did they manage it? Because Whidmore broke the rules? Don’t know.

Despite the dubious “got to recreate the situation” plot mechanic I really enjoyed seeing them all arrive back on the plane, albeit with slightly differing circumstances. One for the geeks, noticing the differences. I also liked the conversion of Jack, from man of science to man of faith. The last person you would have thought this to happen to. However, writing out Aaron in a convenient “don’t ask” throw away line was a bit rubbish.

And then they were back. Sometime. Where Jin is in The Dharma Initiative and I bet Locke turns up as an immortal Island guardian bloke. Or something.

Plenty to speculate endlessly about.

February 21, 2009

Arthur C. Clarke Award 2009 Long List

Here’s my analysis of the 2009 Arthur C. Clarke Award long list. Ideally this should be every SF book published last year, but sometimes publishers don’t submit books. However, it’s still a great reminder of what was published.

Books on the list I’ve read (depressingly short):

Matter by Iain M Banks (Orbit)
Infoquake by David Louis Edelman (Solaris)
The Broken World by Tim Etchells (William Heinemann)
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann)
The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Atlantic)
Halting State by Charles Stross (Orbit)
Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Orbit)

The two I’d discard for my shortlist are Matter and Saturn’s Children.

 

Books on the list I haven’t read (depressingly long):

Continue reading Arthur C. Clarke Award 2009 Long List.

February 20, 2009

Love & Hate

Things that Big Dumb Object has loved and hated this week:

Loved

  • Good telly yet again. In fact too much to watch all of it. Great episodes of Lost, Being Human, The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Hustle.
  • Seeing the sun. For a while.
  • Stylish indie SF being released to the web. It seems to be a valid route for films and comics, somehow books still seem at odds with the web as a distribution channel.
  • Writing every day.
  • The Arthur C. Clarke Award submissions for 2009. Ready made reading list. I don't envy the judges, there are some big books in there. BDO's shortlist to follow soon.

 

Hated

  • Hustle finishing. The standard six episode series in the UK is just not long enough.
  • Twitter overload! If only Tweetdeck handled multiple accounts everything might be manageable.
  • Writing every day still not resulting in finished stories.
  • The inbox piling up.

February 19, 2009

condition:human A Stylish SF Indie Web Series

condition:human is a new Science Fiction web series. The trailer is below and looks very stylish, all the more impressive given it's made with no budget. The finished series is going to be six fifteen minute episodes. The story sounds Bladerunner-esque: near future, AI level companion robots, moral questions about the robots.

The website also has behind the scenes footage, which show what you can achieve with some skill and not much money.

Quality indie SF is something that I love to support, you don't need big budgets, just some skill and some time, and (presumably!) dedication.

condition:human is worth checking out, its full release is due 1st April 2009.

February 18, 2009

The Penultimate Truth - Philip K Dick

The Penultimate Truth by Philip K Dick starts with an intriguing idea, that many stories would have held for a big reveal, and then it casually informs the reader of the secret. That secret being the fact that the third World War has ended, and yet millions of citizens still live beneath the ground in tanks, duped into believing that they are still fighting by an elite who live on the surface.

The story initially follows a president of one of these tanks as he returns to the surface to try and find an artificial pancreas for their senior engineer. However the plot soon spins out into a complicated mess of intrigue and personal political wranglings. Not so much for the better either, I would have preferred the plot to concentrate on the single journey to discover the truth, instead it feels like a bit of a mess. And yet still interesting, in a this is a bit bonkers kind of way. Typical PKD in that respect, but less focussed than some of his best works.

It's almost like PKD was trying to write about something and the original idea was getting in the way. For example, time-travel is casually mentioned to be possible, and in fact used as a major plot device, yet no one bats an eyelid. It's not elucidated, it's just an advanced weapon that someone got hold of.

What does remain as good as any other PKD book is the cool retro-future ideas and language. Somehow PKD manages to invent words and technology that still seem cool despite being extrapolated from the year they were written in. Ideas such as a handful of giant computers and the elite having robots for soldiers, are clearly incorrect speculation, yet the core idea that the population is being deceived by expert film makers seems pretty relevant to today. The total future envisioned in the book (published in 1964) does not seem a plausible current future, but it does feel like a plausible future of the past. An alternative today.

Not one of the best PKD book  I have read, but interesting for a fan of his work.

Can We Make A Star On Earth?

Brian Cox is Groovy Physicist! He has a Mustang convertible, he has groovy arty direction, he has blackboards and chalk, he has a cosy Northern accent, he worked with Danny Boyle, he talks to the masses about physics!









Last night his new documentary was broadcast on BBC2, Can We Make A Star On Earth which was an exploration of fusion and it's potential as an energy source. And he did it in a very enjoyable way, playing the dumb citizen when talking to other Professors so that they explain things, and not just babble maths. Including a tour inside the new Korean KSTAR reactor and a tour around the remarkable Z Machine.



I liked it: entertaining and physics. Worth a watch on the iPlayer if you missed it and are in the UK.

February 16, 2009

Most Wanted

Things that Big Dumb Object most wants this week:

  • A cheap ebook reader that actually looks and behaves like a book, not a phone from 1988.
  • More Clone Wars, the cartoon. Quite predictable but good fights.
  • Red Dwarf. The world needs some quality SF comedy, perhaps the new Red Dwarf special can regain the special magic of the first few series?

February 15, 2009

Lost S05E05

The time skipping is accelerating and the smoke monster is back!

I'm still confused as to what is really causing the time skipping. I've assumed that Ben's attempts to get everyone back to the island is to stop the time skipping, but now I'm beginning to doubt that. For a start Jack's dead dad, who somehow is in a cave underground in the past(!), commented about trusting what Ben says. Which implies that their aims aren't actually aligned. And then Locke fixed the wheel of time. Was that all that was needed?

I liked the explanation of what happened to Rousseau and the French team, although of course there is some doubt left to the exact nature of what happened. When we first met Rousseau and she talked about her team becoming infected and ill I assumed it was a contagious disease, probably because of the association to Desmond's bio-hazard suit. At the time I thought it was a bit strange that no one else was infected. Now we realise that actually they were taken by the smoke monster and changed somehow. Maybe. Or maybe Danielle had just freaked out and gone mad? I don't ever seem to remember seeing that temple before either, which is where the smoke monster lives. All of these time travel peeks into the past are revealing that there was a much older civilisation on the island, maybe the original others?

I was surprised that Charlotte grew up on the island and I felt sorry for Daniel at her death, even though Charlotte was annoying. It's quite cool that Daniel tries to go back and change what happens, telling her to not go back to The Island. Despite Daniel saying that you can't change anything. The Island obviously has a very strong pull on everyone who has been there.

Sun gave in a little too easily to Ben I thought, surely producing Jin's ring didn't prove anything? Unusual because usually the characters actions are believable (in the context of what they have been through).

Is the weird Eloise woman really Daniel's mother? If so then that explains his fascination with time travel.

Lots to think about and still highly entertaining despite the episode being a bit of a downer (death, dying and broken legs ARGGGHH!).

February 14, 2009

Five SF Books For Valentine's Day

Here's a list of some Science Fiction books to get you through/in-the-mood for Valentine's Day. Yes, I know it's commercial nonsense to guilt us into spending money, and yes I know this is probably not the first blog to do this today, but I take it as an opportunity to recommend some great SF. Here's my list from the books I have read and can remember:

 

Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson.

All the Orange County Trilogy books are wonderful, full of emotion and great characters. Both The Wild Shore and The Gold Coast would be a good choice, but Pacific Edge stands above them all. It's a story set in a utopia, with love and heartbreak and an ending that made me want to get out and live more.

 

 The Broken World by Tim Etchells.

One of my favourite books from last year, ideal for anyone who thinks that maybe their videogame addiction is getting in the way of their real world relationships. A virtual love story that becomes an obsession that affects life.

 

 


 Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link.

Not all the stories are Valentine's Day material, but I'd recommend Magic For Beginners and Some Zombie Contingency Plans, both of which capture the essence of awkward teenage love.

 

 

 

 


 The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkway.

Big enough to lose yourself in for the entire month following Valentine's Day (use it to forget or to remember). Amidst all the other cool stuff this story contains a long running, complicated saga of love. Plus, if you're fed up of all this Valentine's slush it has ninjas.

 

 



 War Of The Worlds by H.G.Wells.

The story of a man, some Martians and his journey to find his wife. Relationships in glorious understated Victorian-vision.

February 13, 2009

Love & Hate

Things that Big Dumb Object has loved and hated this week:

Loved

  • Waiting for Rain by Mary Robinette Kowal (Subterranean Fall 2008)
  • A veritable Twitter explosion in the UK.
  • The Sarah Connor Chronicles resuming in the UK on Virgin 1. (Well, it started last week, but I forgot to mention it.)
  • Lost. Of course.
  • Being Human. Still surprising.
  • Making time to write.
  • The BBC iPlayer.

 

Hated

  • Battlestar Galactica season 4. I've battled through to episode 5. Tedious.
  • Melting snow. Please see previous comments about living in a dome.
  • The media coverage that goes with the Twitter explosion.
  • Never making enough time to read enough.
  • Still not integrated my Twitter feed into the front page here.

Flashbake Version Control For Writers

I tend to use Google Docs for writing, due to the backups all over Google's "cloud". I have no objections to the privacy issues etc. I doubt they'll nick my ideas.

Cory Doctorow however, has worked with Thomas Gideon to create a version control system for people who like writing on their machines. It's called Flashbake, an it is rather predictably Python + Git. I say naturally, because Git is the open source, source control system du jour, and Python is, well Python, favoured by hacky scripty types who can't be bothered to learn Perl.

"It's all pretty nerdy, I admit," says Cory.

Yes, but it's also quite cool.

It doesn't work on Windows yet however, because Windows seems to be allergic to Python.

Day Of The Triffids Remake Cast News


Personally I like the last TV version of Day Of The Triffids, despite the actual Triffids sounding like The Rangdo from The Adventure Game. So I was a bit unsure about a remake. However the cast sounds pretty good:

Brian Cox, Eddie Izzard, Joely Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Priestly.
Yeah, well, apart from Jason Priestly.

Via BDO's AICN Correspondant.

February 12, 2009

Teenormous T-Shirt Search Engine For SF T-Shirts

Teenormous is a cool T-Shirt search engine, who have listed their funniest Star Wars T-Shirts including the classic threadless design...

Dark Side of the Garden - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Also try searching on your favourite film or TV show eg. Star Wars. All the major T-Shirt stores in one place, which is nice.

The downside is that there is no country filter, so you can't see which T-Shirts are for sale in the UK, meaning that you need to work out the postage and currency calculation (and then worry about import duty).

February 11, 2009

The Cost Of Building A Death Star

Back of an envelope estimated calculations are a skill every scientist should cultivate. Sanity checking your complex calculations is essential!

Of course you could always swap your envelope for your blog,like geekologie have done, who have estimated how much it would cost to build the Death Star.

Okay, so if we can cut out NASA we can basically save ourselves $13 septillion, dropping the total cost of a Death Star to a paltry $2 septillion. Now I think that's manageable folks

Via Guitar Noize

February 10, 2009

Dr. BDO's Problem Page : AWOL

Dr. BDO is absent from Big Dumb Object this week. He was last seen jumping on cruise ship heading to the Caribbean, presumably to watch some cricket.

We shall try and entice him back into the fold with some juicy problems next week.

February 9, 2009

Most Wanted

Things that Big Dumb Object most wants this week:

  • A version of Elite on the Wii. Just because.
  • Seeing one of these new fangled 3D films that require no silly 3D glasses.
  • A rocket powered sledge.
  • Some inspiration. Or alternatively time to work hard.
  • A twitter client that does everything I need.

February 8, 2009

Lost S05E04

EVANGELINE LILLY, MATTHEW FOX

Another highly enjoyable episode, but also one which has me slightly more confused. 

I assumed that the Oceanic 6 had to get back on the island to prevent some crazy temporal paradox stuff. And that perhaps they would turn out to be the original others. However the ill effects of the time skipping islanders seems to be entirely due to the time skipping, and the time skipping seems to be entirely due to Ben turning the big wheel in a panic to escape and hide. So it doesn't quite make sense to me.

It was good fun seeing Kate's reaction to Ben however, and the revelation that he hasn't really changed that much, he still has his hands working the strings. I have a feeling that he personally has more at stake than he has let on.

I was saying that they always seemed to paddle out onto the sea when it's dead calm, when they skipped into a storm, made me chuckle, and then Sawyer sums it up with a quip riposte to himself. Sawyer is my main source of amusement, with his one liners underscoring their situations wonderfully.

Jin coming back, or rather escaping the exploding ship was a surprise, I thought he was dead. And then skipping back in time to when Rousseau and the French arrived was also a surprise. I hope he hangs around so that we find out what really happened with the French, however I have a feeling it will be revealed slowly in mosaic fashion.

Hmmm and hmmm.

Somehow Lost always seems optimistic to me, despite the characters being put in peril at every turn. Not sure why it feels that way to me, maybe it's the location (desert island sunshine!) or perhaps the way that the show never takes itself too seriously? Or maybe it's just that every episode is immense fun?

Being Human - Episode 2

Another surprising episode of Being Human. I expect the story to take the easy obvious route out, and yet it never seems to do that.

This episode focussed on another werewolf arriving and influencing George, and once again contained a good mix of humour and emotion. George had to make some hard decisions, about who he is, and who he wants to be. I thought it was nicely handled, because I wasn't really sure which way George was going to go.

The werewolf transformation scenes are done quite well, including the gruesome voice over explaining how painful it was. However the resulting werewolf looks pretty stupid. Surely they could have produced a better final product?

Meanwhile we see Mitchell continuing his fight against his vampire instincts, despite being sent Vampire Porn, to try and tempt him. The neighbours coming round for tea was a bit over the top, but played for laughs I guess.

The use of music was much better this episode, with only one track that was too loud and gratuitous, and extra points for using a Muse track in a delicate way near the end.

Presumably there will be an episode focussing on Annie the ghost and then one on Mitchell? Although the vampires seem to be at the core of the main story arc, so perhaps they will be in every episode to a large extent.

Surprisingly enjoyable.

February 6, 2009

Love & Hate

Things that Big Dumb Object has loved and hated this week:

Loved
  • Lost which is now so awesome that I literally cannot wait for each episode.
  • Being Human, which continues to be good.
Hated
  • US books not getting UK editions, especially now that 1$ is seven billion £s

More On The Next Generation Of SF

Yesterday I posted about The Guardian's view of the next generation of SF, at that point I hadn't got round to reading Jonathan's latest Blasphemous Geometries column in Futurismic in which he attacks the same topic.

Nick Harkaway's brilliant The Gone-Away World and Patrick Ness' very trendy in SF blog circles The Knife of Never Letting Go are both mentioned and Jonathan expands on his Barleypunk movement. The image that comes into mind when I read the word Barleypunk is a kind of Wurzels character with straw in the mouth, standing in a field, however the real definition derives from something with much more swearing.

February 5, 2009

The Guardian Looks At The Next Generation Of SF Writers

Damien in The Guardian has a post responding to their 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read list, asking who the next generation of SF writers are. He suggests Joe Hill, Mary Robinette Kowal and Ken Scholes and then says:

Hill, Kowal and Scholes are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to talented new writers making a name in genre fiction. The vibrant independent and small presses continue to provide a venue for emerging writers that allows them to learn their craft; the result is a stream of excellent new writing pouring into genre fiction year after year.
Yeah, too much to read!

[via Cheryl]

Watchmen UK Premiere date

I haven't seen the date for the UK premiere of Watchmen about anywhere, but according to Jonathan Ross it's 23rd February, because he just got his invite.

Still not massively excited about Watchmen, more intrigued.

February 4, 2009

SkyNet Research Is Coming

Call themselves a research company? What kind of empty holding page is that?

io9?

John@SFSignal is asking what everyone thinks about io9.

To be honest I don't read it that much, mainly due to the fact that they post too regularly. That's also a problem I have with other Gawker sites. Presumably they're trying to produce so much content that not only will they have better chances of someone seeing something that they like, but also of sort-of google bombing the entire SF genre search terms. There's probably something in there that interesting, but I don't have time to find it.

They do have content though, I'll give them that. My attempts here at posting something almost every day often result in, well, not very much! My aim however has been to post one thing a week that has some worthwhile content, usually a review. I'm quite happy how that's working out, it feels good to actually write stuff, even though it goes against my old-skool blogging instincts (link link link link sarcastic comment link).

For general chatter I'm using twitter @bigdumbobject which I intend to integrate in some fashion into the front page. Sometime.





February 3, 2009

Dr. BDO's Problem Page : Outrage

Dear Dr. BDO,

I am outraged at the latest awards shortlist. Please can you print my outrage to publicise it. I [snip]

Outraged in Oxford

Sorry, no. Get your own blog, this one is purely for my own outrage (well, mild annoyances).

A Sneak Peek Of The Prisoner Remake

Here's a cheesey promo video for the completely pointless The Prisoner remake. Lots of cringey statements by the actors, like "we have a chance at greatness" or some other such twoddle.

The only good thing appears to be Sir Ian McKellan. But still. Why bother? The original The Prisoner was genius, flawed may be, but still genius. Please write new stories for new TV shows...

February 2, 2009

Most Wanted 02/02/09

Things that Big Dumb Object most wants this week:

One thing looms above everything else.... Mind Over Ship by David Marusek (UK / US). His previous novel, Counting Heads was awesome, and he's been beavering away in the Alaskan wilderness for ages to write the sequel. Not sure if there will be a UK edition, there should be, but Amazon UK only has the US Tor version on import, which was exactly the way that I had to get hold of  Counting Heads.

February 1, 2009

Lost - S05E03



Another episode of time skipping wonder. Lots of cool stuff. More or less every scene ended with a great WTF?! moment. Although some things are becoming clearer.

For a start we find out that the people in the military uniforms are Others and they've killed a load of US soldiers. Who have left their atomic bomb behind, naturally. This seems to imply that the Others have always been on The Island, or at least for a very long time, and they are constantly fighting off intruders be they US Army or the Dharma Initiative. Amusingly Daniel then promises to diffuse the atomic bomb, but takes the "I've seen the future therefore I can do anything" approach and suggests they bury it, good thinking that man. I like Daniel, particularily good this episode was his confession of love to convince Richard and I felt very sorry for Daniel at the end when Charlotte collapses.

Meanwhile, as Daniel becomes more assured, Sawyer is getting more irritated not knowing what's going on, and Locke is looking increasingly insecure. At least Sawyer is funny, Locke's insecure arrogant self importance seems to be setting him up for a fall. But now we know why Richard turned up at Locke's house when he was young. I can't help thinking that Locke is Jacob or something crazy. And I couldn't figure out who the young Other girl was that Daniel recognised, but thought that it could be his mother.

I love the time skipping, because when it happens there's a long moment of "where are they now?" which slowly resolves itself.

Meanwhile Desmond travels to the land of fake Oxford and bad accents to find Daniels mother. One outside scene looked like England, the Oxford university scenes didn't so much, the accents were from Mars. The only thing that we seemed to learn from Desmond's trip is that Daniel was at Oxford and he did something to a woman, presumably sent her brain back in time. I think. Will Daniel's mother be the mysterious time woman? Don't know.

The biggest WOAH moment of the episode was the fact that a young Charles Whidmore was on the island. Which raises the questions: why did he leave? How did he leave? What does he want? How did he get there?

Not many then.

Being Human - Episode 1



The pilot of Being Human, broadcast last year in BBC3's pilot season, gained a good enough reception, including from me, to get the whole series made. (Which in the UK actually only means six episodes.) So what was the first episode of the series proper like?

Pretty good. It started in a very dark way, explaining how the vampire and the werewolf came to be, both of which were not particularily pleasant. The details of the origins of the ghost are held back for a later episode. Also mixed is a good dollop of humour too, some of it black but it had me chuckling.

A few things have changed since the pilot, the vampire and the ghost are different, and so is the head vampire. The head vampire change, from a larger than life Adrian Lester to a weasely policeman, works well, he has an under-current of real nastiness. I wasn't as convinced by the ghost at first, but it's a different slant form the pilot, which I think may work.

The episode length is an hour too, which allows plenty of time for the story.

The only downside was the sometimes forced soundtrack, BBC3 leaning towards its yoof target demographic a bit too heavily. Or maybe I'm just getting old?

I liked it, and I'm looking forward to the next episode, which is tonight...


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