The Darkness That Comes After

Believe in me and I will give you eternal Salvation, said the Lord. “Can I have Might or Kings instead?” asked the tank.

Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ Category

Feature – Da Vinci Automata

Posted by senseichow on April 13, 2007

Just a couple of days ago I received an e-mail from these guys asking me to check out a relatively new blog, all about the Clockpunk sub-genre of Science Fiction.

Until I read the e-mail I had no idea there even was a Clockpunk sub-genre of Science Fiction, but, my curiosity aroused, I went off to see what it was all about. Turns out its kinda like Steampunk but with less steam and more clocks 🙂

And you know what, the site itself is pretty cool! There’s up and coming news about Clockpunk, a chance to get involved in a Clockpunk Anthology Project (check out the cracking short story A Matter of Heart), and a link to a very intriguing novel on the front page (Mainspring by Jay Lake).

Check it all out here.

And if my humble words aren’t enough for you, how about this? They’ve been BoingBoinged! You can’t go wrong with an endorsement from the mighty Cory Doctorow himself 🙂

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Posted in Feature, Sci-Fi | 2 Comments »

Review – I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Posted by senseichow on April 12, 2007

(I know, I know, I’m supposed to be reading a bunch of other stuff right now, but I saw this baby going cheap on eBay and I couldn’t resist. I have to say, this book just gets better every time you read itI Am Legend.)

Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend is probably his best known work. First published in 1954, it tells the story of Robert Neville, the last man alive. A strange plague has turned every other person on Earth into a vampire and Neville must learn to survive in this strange new world.

Holed up in his heavily fortified house, Neville hunts the vampires by day, and by night the vampires hunt him. Or rather, they surround his house and watch and wait for him to make a mistake that would allow them access to the house. In the meantime Neville attempts to investigate the vampire plague and its origins in the hope of finding a cure.

The story is revealed in brief flashback segments. We learn how the dust storms helped spread the vampire plague, how Neville’s wife and child slowly became ill, and then died. We experience Neville’s slow, creeping sense of despair as his wife comes back from the dead and he has to kill her.

The writing is excellent throughout – Matheson does a superb job of conveying the horror of the world Neville lives in, as well as his isolation and the pressure that he’s under. Neville’s day time travels from the house (limited as he needs to be back inside before sunset) are always presented with a real sense of urgency. The clock is ticking, and if Neville is still outside when night comes, the vampires will have him. At one point in the story, while visiting the grave of his dead wife, Neville’s watch stops without him realising, and the feeling of terror and desperation he experiences comes across as very real, and very vivid. His subsequent struggle to get back to the house is easily one of the most gripping segments of the book.

Given his enforced loneliness, a central theme of the book is Neville’s mental state – for the first half of the book he comes across as dangerously unstable, almost snapping several times. He eventually learns to cope with his isolation, and channels his energies towards determining the source of the plague. Disdaining a supernatural explanation as the cause, Neville shows his resourcefulness by turning to science, reading Medical textbooks on Bacteriology and Haematology, and experimenting on the vampires he finds. He realizes the entire plague is bacterial in origin, and discovers logical (within reason, this is SF after all) reasons for a vampire’s aversion to sunlight and garlic, and their vulnerability to being staked. Their aversion to crosses is explained in a slightly tongue in cheek way, as this is put down to purely psychological conditioning amongst Christian vampires. The one Jewish vamp he get to experiment on is unaffected by the Cross, but does react to a copy of the Torah.

The title of the book, I Am Legend, refers to the fact that once, vampires themselves were legends, but no longer. Neville, the last surviving human, has become that legend. Many of the vampires have never seen Neville, and are only aware of him from the corpses of vampires executed by him every day. Despite hunting him, they live in constant terror of him.

In all, this is a superb book which, in its day, set the standards for vampires for a long time to come. It was the inspiration for a whole genre (George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead was initially based on this book) and thoroughly deserves its place in the SF Masterworks imprint.

And for you lazy bastards out there who can’t be bothered reading it, there’s a film adaptation (the third so far), I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, that’s due out later this year 🙂

Posted in books, reviews, Sci-Fi | Leave a Comment »

New Iron Man Armor Pics!!

Posted by senseichow on April 12, 2007

Quite possibly even sweeter than the Transformers pics.

Ain’t It Cool News has a picture of the grey Iron Man armor (the prototype armor Stark makes before he decides that red and yellow is much more badass) from the upcoming movie.

Check it out.

(You’ll have to scroll down the page a fair bit before getting to the armor)

Posted in comics, movies, Sci-Fi | Leave a Comment »

Transformers Update – More Trailers

Posted by senseichow on April 1, 2007

In HD. This film looks absolutely freakin’ amazing.

Check them out here.

Posted in movies, Sci-Fi | Leave a Comment »

More Awesomeness

Posted by senseichow on March 30, 2007

My first ever books for advance review have arrived!

Solaris have very kindly sent me a copy of Brian Lumley’s Necroscope: The Touch as well as Emily Gee’s Thief With No Shadow to…. er…. dissect in detail with my keen literary mind.

Or something like that anyway.

I’ve never heard of Gee but the blurb on the cover sounds good, and I’ve been a big fan of Lumley’s Necroscope series since the original days of Harry Keogh, so I’m really looking forward to reading both.

Watch this space for the reviews.

Posted in books, fantasy, Sci-Fi | Leave a Comment »

Review – Blindsight by Peter Watts

Posted by senseichow on March 24, 2007

The bottom line – great high concept sci-fi with touches of horror thrown in. Highly recommended.

Although I’m equal parts sci-fi and fantasy geek (parts which combine to make one big super geek….. that’s right ladies….. oh yeah…..) my choice of reading material usually leans towards fantasy. No particular reason for it, its just always been that way. Having reviewed a bunch of fantasy books lately, I thought I’d better throw in a sci-fi review or too, and as luck would have it, along came Blindsight.

Now you may have realised that link above doesn’t take you to the usual Amazon page, but instead to the author’s website where you can download the novel for free (the rest of the site is also extremely cool and worth checking out). As I’ve said before on this blog, its available online under a Creative Commons license, and even if you don’t read another single word of this review, you should still go and download that book. It really is that good.

The plot takes place in the late 21st century. Human society, paradoxically stagnating in the midst of technological advancement, makes First Contact with an alien intelligence, the Fireflies. Desperate to find out more about this potential threat, they send a starship populated with the best and brightest crew Earth has to offer to the edges of the solar system.

And what a crew it is. A vampire who, under Watts’ writing, becomes far more terrifying than anything ever imagined by Bram Stoker; a biologist who, ironically enough, is more machine than human; a synthesist (think cross between empath and interpreter) with half his brain cut out; an augmented soldier; and a linguist suffering from the worst case of multiple personality disorder I’ve ever seen in print.

You may be forgiven for thinking that vampires sound a little out of place in high concept sci-fi but believe me, Watts explains their existence beautifully. The stuff about the Crucifix glitch (vampires have seizures when they see right angles – but this can be fixed by giving them ‘anti-Euclideans’) is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t detract from the experience one bit.

Now, to give you honest readers out there fair warning- this book’s jam-packed with science, with a bit of stealth philosophy thrown in for good measure. If hard sci-fi’s not your thing, then stay away from this book. Head back to your Star Wars and Doctor Who novels.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy great reads that can amaze and scare you in turn, and leave you feeling just that little bit smarter for having read them, then dive right in.

Posted in books, reviews, Sci-Fi | 3 Comments »

Heroes Update – Season 1 So Far

Posted by senseichow on March 17, 2007

HeroesThe bottom line – Brilliant. Good to see sci-fi isn’t dead on TV after all.

Hard to believe I almost let this show slip by. I got hold of a few episodes back in the day and couldn’t make it past episode 2. Mohinder’s Hollywood science intro seemed overly pretentious, Peter Petrelli was way too emo to have powers, I couldn’t make much sense of the Horn Rimmed Glasses guy (HRG), and despite the setup of the show nothing much seemed to be happening. So I decided to stay away, and left the rest of the episodes unwatched.

A few months later, looking for something to do, I started watching it again. Started off with some of the later episodes, which had a lot more going on than the earlier stuff. By this time most of the Heroes had discovered their powers, and were using them with various degrees of success. The plots had thickened, a main bad guy had been introduced, and a background storyline had been set.

The basic premise of the show is ordinary people gradually discovering they had superpowers. We then get to see how they use their powers in everyday life – but in the midst of all this there’s a superpowered serial killer on the loose, and he seems to be taking the powers of every hero he kills. There’s also the standard ‘mysterious organization’ tracking these heroes, and a bit of time travelling from one of the heroes, as well as prophetic visions from a couple of others, show New York being destroyed in what seems to be a nuclear blast in the very near future.

Not all the heroes are aware of each other, most don’t know the full limits of their own power, and they’re scattered all over the US, quite often working at cross purposes. Some are trying to catch the serial killer Sylar, some are trying to figure out what the mysterious organization is doing, and some are trying to stop the blast in New York from happening. What makes the show stand is the way in which all these plotlines are shown to interweave. The characters are well written and they all get enough screen time to reveal just how much depth they have. This couldn’t have been easy given the size of the cast. It is possible to draw similarities between Heroes and Marvel’s X-Men, but once you get into the show you realise that Heroes has the quality to stand on its own. This is no mere X-Men rip-off.

The action and special effects are superb for a TV show. These days I’m constantly amazed by just how good TV SFX have gotten – 10 years ago movie effects would have been struggling with this stuff. Ted Sprague’s radioactive powers, Peter and Nathan flying, Hiro stopping time, Sylar’s telekinesis, all briliantly realised. The only thing that’s a little unconvincing is Nikki/Jessica’s super strength – somehow when Clark Kent does it on Smallville it just seems a lot more plausible.

Heroes is currently having a bit of a break until the next episode airs in April (the 23rd if I remember right). Its left us with a good old fashioned cliff-hanger; Peter, one of the main good guys, facing off against Sylar, the main bad guy in New York, whilst far away in Texas, Peter’s brother Nathan stands poised to make a decision that could turn him to the dark side.

It sounds like its gonna be a pivotal episode in the series. Can’t wait to check it out.

Posted in Sci-Fi, TV | Leave a Comment »

Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children

Posted by senseichow on August 22, 2006

So I’ve never been a big fan of the Final Fantasy games. Been a PC RPG’er most of my adult life and never saw the need to delve into the murky depths of console RPGs.

So its fair to say I rented thFinal Fantasy 7 Advent Childrenis movie from Amazon without really expecting much. Boy was I wrong!

The plot, from what I now know, is pretty heavily based on Final Fantasy 7, so if you’ve never played the game you may be a little lost at first. However, as every true geek knows, its not the plot that matters, its the special effects.

And they don’t disappoint.

The fight in the forest, the battle in the city against Bahamust Sin (a big dragon type thing) and the final showdown with archbaddie Sephiroth – all breathtaking. The fight scenes really give you a sense of the power of the people involved, and the sheer scale of it is amazing. There’s one particular bit where Cloud Strife (the main hero guy) jumps straight into the sky, and his old buddies from FF7 (who turned up especially for the fight, keep throwing him ever upwards – extremely cool. Extremely.

If you’re a fan of the games, or if you have even a passing interest in anime, or if you’re just a good old fashioned nerd, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

Posted in Anime, Sci-Fi | Leave a Comment »