February 2012 Archives

February 27, 2012

Robo Comrade!

February 23, 2012

FutureScapes Science Fiction Short Story Competition

From the Guardian comes news of a Science Fiction short story competition:

"Fancy yourself as the next HG Wells, Cormac McCarthy or Margaret Atwood? The Guardian has teamed up with the FutureScapes project to invite all budding writers to submit their visions of the year 2025 to a short story competition.

The winner will have the honour of seeing their story appear alongside work by New York Times bestselling thriller writer Michael Marshall Smith, fantasy children's author Marcus Sedgwick, Kate Harrison, creator of the Secret Shopper series, "sex and shopping" novelist Lesley Lokko and cultural commentator Markus Albers."

Sounds interesting, but as always check the terms and conditions before entering  (it's also sponsored by Sony).

Just as interesting as the competition itself though are the five stories that are published online by Michael Marshall Smith, Marcus Sedgwick, Kate Harrison, Lesley Lokko and Markus Albers

February 22, 2012

Juggernaut - Adam Baker

Juggernaut by Adam Baker is set in Iraq and follows a band of mercenaries looking for that one-big-score-enough-to-retire job. The treasure is gold, buried in the desert.

The style is of a military thriller with details about guns and armour and using military slang. This added a sheen of foreign translation that washed by me, those interested in guns and army stuff will probably enjoy that sheen. The language enhances the war mentality too, short and sharp and fast moving, not lingering on details but rushing into the action.

The story starts with some action then, goes back in time to explain, a flash-forward if you like. Whilst I can understand the reason is to hook people in I found this structure detracted from the tension in the second half of the novel as I knew the outcome. Yes, there's another hanging plot thread that is resolved at the end of the story but I felt the major question posed by their exploit, who will survive, is given away before it's started.

Eventually, as the plot progresses, another element is thrown into the mix, making it more than just a military thriller. If you've read Outpost you'll probably see this coming, if not, well, it might surprise you, depending on what you are expecting. As it's quite likely you're a Science Fiction fan if you're reading this then let me assure you, it is Science Fiction, on the action, horror, bit gory end of the scale. Personally I'm more of a SF fan than a horror or military thriller fan and therefore wanted a bit more SF. In fact, the ending piqued my interest the most, I'd quite like to see a sequel that fills in the timeline gap in the universe that Adam Baker has created. (It's probably in the works.)

Juggernaut is the sort of novel that I can imagine as a fast paced blockbuster film. That sounds like a bit of an insult in cold black and white text but it's not intended as such. Whether a film could conjure the images the text can is of course debatable but the story is fast paced and full of action and really gagging for a big screen explosion filled adaptation.

I feel I've been a bit vague in this review, but I'm conscious that someone reading Juggernaut who has avoided spoilers could well be in for a surprise and don't want to spoil that. However I do want to talk about it so I will.

Spoilers ahead.....

Continue reading Juggernaut - Adam Baker.

February 18, 2012

Walking To The Stars

A pleasant stroll?

February 15, 2012

Cities In Flight?

To the stars!

February 10, 2012

Excellent Interview With SFX Genius Doulgas Trumball

The Hollywood Reporter has a proper in-depth interview with special effects genius Douglas Trumball who is best know for a few little films such as 2001, Bladerunner and Silent Running. He discusses the state of Hollywood Blockbuster films, including why the technology for current 3D is just not good enough...

If people are going to go out, put gas in their car, go to all of the inconvenience of getting a babysitter or whatever they have to do to make the decision to go out to a movie theater, they'd better see something truly spectacular. And I don't think the price point is nearly as important as delivering the product that the audience is willing to pay to see.  If I go to Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas or something, I'll easily pay $75 to $150 for a spectacle because I'm not going to see it anywhere else, and I'm certainly not going to get it on TV. I think we have to start thinking about movies that way, because we're spending 100, 200, $300 million on a movie and yet it's being throttled down through an inefficient delivery system. The production value isn't getting to the audience.

Via Dave

February 8, 2012

Another Awesome Robot T-Shirt

Hello big robot.

February 3, 2012

StarShipSofa Online Writers Workshop

StarShipSofa are hosting an Online Writers Workshop featuring Ann VanderMeer, Nancy Kress and Peter Watts. 

The topics covered will be: 
  • Unlocking Your Creativity by Ann VanderMeer 
  • Why Science Fiction is Too Important To Be Left to the Scientists by Peter Watts 
  • Creating and Maintaining Tension by Nancy Kress
Go here to get more details a tickets.